Surge in complaints about Norwich noisy neighbours

The lives of families in Norwich are increasingly being made miserable by noisy neighbours, according to new statistics which show a surge in complaints.

New figures have revealed that, over the past two years, there have been more than 8,700 complaints about noise lodged with councils in Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk.

The number of complaints has gone up by more than 300 over the past 12 months, as people reach the end of their tether because of nuisance noise.

In Norwich the number of complaints increased from 3,567 in 2009/10 to 3,794 in 2010/11 and, according to figures obtained using the Freedom of Information Act, the majority of those complaints concerned loud music, which accounted for more than 3,500 complaints over that period.

But people noise, such as slamming doors or shouting, sparked almost 2,000 complaints, while barking dogs caused more than 600 people to complain to City Hall.

Noisy DIY (165), loud television and radio sets (112) and blaring alarms (76) were the other chief reasons for complaints in Norwich.

Over the two years, the three councils have served 58 noise abatement notices and seized equipment, such as stereos, five times.

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A spokeswoman for the city council said: 'We do take complaints about noise very seriously, Initial visits are undertaken by the neighbourhood wardens who would then usually sent a standard warning letter.

'We would then ask the complainant to keep a diary of the noise and then, based on visits from neighbourhood wardens and/or data from installed noise equipment we will send abatement notices if the noise is considered to be a statutory nuisance.

*Failure to comply with an abatement notice once it has been served is a criminal offence, with a maximum fine of �5,000 for domestic premises and �20,000 for commercial premises, while the defendant may also have to pay costs.

'We also have powers to seize any equipment believed to be responsible for creating the nuisance. If necessary we are able to obtain a warrant to enter premises by force if necessary.'

The council said people could also be evicted, from council homes, registered social landlords and private landlords, for being a noise nuisance.

But they added no Norwich City Council housing tenants had been evicted solely because they were a noise nuisance over the past two years.

In Broadland, there were 510 complaints over the past year and 425 the previous year, with music and barking dogs the primary causes for complaint.

A spokeswoman for Broadland District Council said the authority wrote to person allegedly causing the problem to tell them about a complaint and then arrangements were made to monitor the noise.

She added: 'Ideally, we try and help neighbours solve the problem between themselves and we can provide mediation where we think it could resolve an issue.

'However, we can serve a statutory noise abatement notice on the person responsible for the noise. They can appeal to the magistrates' court against the notice, or if they don't comply, we can refer the case to be settled there.'

In South Norfolk, complaints fell, from 225 between October 2009 to October 2010 to 213 over the following 12 months. Music and barking dogs were again, the chief reasons for complaint.

South Norfolk councillor Keith Kiddie, cabinet member for public protection and development control, said: 'The key to South Norfolk Council's success in handling noise complaints is to encourage neighbours to communicate with each other.

'Often the neighbour complained about is not even aware of the nuisance and when they are, they sort it out.

'We are ready to take formal action when warranted, but we rarely have to go as far as prosecutions, cautions or even warnings.'

As recently reported in the Evening News, a mother was grabbed by the wrist and punched in the face outside her Bowthorpe home after she told a drunken man to keep the noise down because he had woken her young child, a court has heard.

Kevin Cullabine, 49, of Noot Alley, off Clover Hill Road in Bowthorpe, admitted assault by beating in the early hours of July 2.

Norwich Magistrates Court heard how the victim was punched in the eye by Cullabine after she confronted him.

Cullabine, who initially told police he was too drunk to remember the attack, was given a four month prison sentence, suspended for a year and ordered to pay his victim �100 compensation.