Figures obtained by the Yorkshire Post under the Freedom of Information Act show that 98,505 noise complaints were made to local authorities from 2016 to October this year, with loud music, barking dogs, and domestic noise among the top issues.
But despite saying they take nuisance noise and the blight it has on people’s lives seriously, the region’s councils issued just 2,613 noise abatement notices requiring those responsible to stop - and less than half a per cent ended up in court action.
Leeds City Council received the highest number of nuisance noise complaints over the period, with 23,350 in total - 9,735 in 2016; 10,341 last year; and 3,274 up to March this year. Over the whole period, it served 1,095 noise abatement notices and took court action in just eight cases.
A spokesperson for the authority said it uses “every tool” at its disposal to put a stop to the blight of noise nuisance on communities.
It claims tackling nuisance noise is a “top priority” and it has seen encouraging results since launching an enhanced service tackling the issue in 2014.
“We’ve found that the issuing of Noise Abatement Notices, for example, has proved to be a positive deterrent in stopping this problem, alongside other measures such as the seizure of equipment, before we decide to prosecute, which is always a last resort,” the spokesman said. “We will not hesitate however to take this step through the courts if necessary and appropriate.”
Kirklees had the second highest number of complaints, with 10,691 over the period, but had a higher prosecution level than Leeds, with 29 cases making it to court, and 171 noise abatement notices.
The Council said it aims to resolve issues using a restorative approach, but where this does not work, it will take action, including seizing equipment, which is then redistributed to charities were appropriate.
Kirklees’ cabinet member for communities and environment, Coun Naheed Mather, said it recognises the “significant impact” that noise can have on people’s wellbeing,
He added: “What does make Kirklees effective in the dealing with noise complaints is the out of hour’s provision it provides for its customers. At the time of local authority budget constraints, the Council believes that keeping this service is a priority for our residents.”
Nuisance noise is not confined to urban areas, with those in living in Yorkshire’s rural idylls also blighted by their neighbours. In Hambleton, 807 complaints were made resulting in just one abatement notice; residents in Craven made 511 complaints with three notices issues; and in Ryedale, more than 200 of the 304 complaints concerned barking dogs, with with one notice issued.
Campaign group HomeOwners Alliance offers advice to those suffering the blight of noisy neighbours.
Chief executive Paula Higgins said: “Noisy neighbours can be a real nightmare for homeowners - you cannot underestimate how stressful it can be.
“We know that it can be tricky for councils to deal with, especially when it involved their own property, but action is needed. Mediation is not always the answer, and sometimes there is no choice but to take it further.”
'People are moving because of it'
STRESSED out homeowners are resorting to selling-up in a bid to escape “nightmare” noisy neighbours, a campaigner has said.
Campaign group HomeOwners Alliance offers advice for people driven to distraction by noisy neighbours.
Chief executive and Paula Higgins said nuisance noise, like that suffered by thousands in Yorkshire, can be a “persistent worry”.
“Your home is supposed to be your safe haven, and when you are blighted by noisy neighbours, it can feel like anything but that,” she said.
“We’ve known people move because of it, and that itself can be tricky, as you have to disclose the issue, so it can even affect house prices. People are at their wits’ end because if it.”
In Rotherham, all complaints are dealt with in-house, which differs from other local authorities, where complaints against those living in council housing are often dealt with by arms-length housing organisations rather than the authority’s own environmental health team.
The council believes this is one of the reasons it has a higher than average rate of issuing noise abatement notices - handing out 315 after receiving 5,736 complaints since 2016, one for every 18 complaints received, compared to one in 21 in Leeds. Nine people were also prosecuted.
Rotherham Council’s cabinet member for community safety, Coun Emma Hoddinott said: “Taking enforcement against the minority that cause a nuisance is a priority for us. We are continually looking to strengthen our approach to enforcement, including noise nuisance and we urge residents to continue to work with us, making reports where they have concerns.”
Doncaster has a similar rate of issuing notices, with 371 issued amid 6,230 complaints. In total, 31 people have been prosecuted.
Cabinet member for the environment, Coun Chris McGuinness, said it proactively investigates reports of noise nuisance and takes enforcement action where it has the evidence required to proceed.
He added: “The Enforcement Team work alongside the Neighbourhood Response Team to provide a 24 hour response to recurring noise issues and this collaborative working means members of the public can expect enforcement action to be taken where officers witness noise issues.”
At the other end of the scale, Wakefield issued a noise abatement notice for 121 complaints received. In total, 59 were issued for 7,156 complaints and just two prosecutions were pursued.
Glynn Humphries, Wakefield Council’s Service Director for Environment and Streetscence said the majority of the complaints were resolve with an informal conversation.
He said: “Most people want to get on with their neighbours and a simple request, from the Council, to be more considerate is very effective in tackling these disputes.
“When this approach does not to work we will investigate the complaint thoroughly.”
Approaching the person causing the noise directly, he said, allowed them to identify any other issues such as mental health problems or vulnerabilities.
“Although in a small number of cases we do have to take formal action we have achieved much better long-term success by adopting a range of approaches, both formal and informal to achieve a solution that is right for the residents we serve,” he added.
In Bradford, one in 51 complaints resulted in a noise abatement notice being issued, and 12 prosecutions were made over the period.
Portfolio holder for healthy people and places, Coun Sarah Ferriby, said: “Noise pollution in our communities can be a blight on people’s lives. Everyone has a role to play in trying to reduce noise pollution, and it’s important people consider what impact the noise they make may have on their neighbours.
“We try to resolve noise problems informally where possible, but if they persist we will take action.”