Initially, the Case Officer would want to discuss your complaint with you, and get some more detail on the nature of the complaint, and who is causing the problem. Leaving full daytime contact details is essential and your case officer will respond to your complaint within 5 working days or sooner if it is an urgent issue.
Normally, our first advice is to approach the person(s) causing the nuisance. Sometimes, they are completely unaware that they are causing a problem. If that doesn't work and we consider the person/activity to be unreasonable we will write to them and advise of the complaint and explain our investigation procedure. We will not release your details. However, in some circumstances it may be obvious who has complained.
Filling in nuisance record sheets
Often receiving a letter works, however, in case it does not, we will also ask you to complete a nuisance record sheet for two to three weeks and then return it to us. These records provide essential information on the nature, severity, duration, frequency of the problem and importantly allow you to describe the impact on you and others living with you.
The nuisance record sheets are very important and the Council will not take any further action unless it has received completed nuisance record sheets from you. If the records are not returned without a reasonable explanation within 28 days the complaint will be closed.
If you have difficulty in filling in the record sheets for any reason, please contact your case officer
Assessment of the record sheets
Once we have received your record sheets the case officer will assess them and contact you to discuss what will happen next.
If the incidents you have noted warrant further investigation, where possible, an officer may undertake programmed visits to the area for the purpose of substantiating your complaint.
With regard to noise, it may be necessary to install noise recording equipment within your premises.
An assessment of the evidence is undertaken by the case officer, this may include analysis of the recordings or evaluating the evidence gathered from the visits or both. On completion of the assessment, the complainant will be advised of the results, and the way forward.
If it is decided that a Statutory Nuisance is being caused, further action will be taken such as the service of an Abatement Notice.
What does an Abatement Notice do?
An Abatement Notice requires the person on whom it is served, to "abate the nuisance". The Notice for example, may state what they must do, such as stop or reduce a noisy process or dog noise, operate within specified times, stop producing dust or odour over their boundary etc. They will be given a reasonable amount of time to take action.
If the nuisance continues we have the following options:
Prosecution of the person responsible for not complying with the abatement notice, with fines of up to £5000 for domestic premises and unlimited for commercial premises.
Seizure of noise-making equipment, under a magistrate's warrant in severe cases.
In the case of burglar or car alarms the council may enter the premise or vehicle, under a magistrate's warrant where necessary, and silence the alarm.
On conviction for not complying with the abatement notice the council may request that the court make a forfeiture order permanently depriving the owner of any seized noise-making equipment.
Will I have to attend court?
In most cases, yes. In order to bring a successful prosecution the evidence of the person affected by the nuisance is important. It will also provide you with the opportunity to explain how the nuisance affects you. Occasionally you can provide your evidence by a written statement, which can be read out in Court. We will support you throughout this process.