The number of legal orders issued against noisy neighbours in Leeds has rocketed – despite a fall in complaints from victims – new figures reveal.
In the last year, the Leeds Anti-social Behaviour Team (LASBT) issued 534 noise abatement notices – up from just 11 the previous year.
Offending equipment including televisions and sound systems was seized from 22 properties in 2014-15 and in three cases problems were so bad premises were forcibly closed.
The increase in legal action comes despite a 17 per cent fall in the number of calls received by the out-of-hours noise nuisance service, from 8,705 in 2013-14 to 7,200 last year.
Coun Mark Dobson, Leeds City Council’s executive member for Safer Leeds, said the figures reflected the fact that the council and police were working together for the first time to crack down on the problem – and were taking it more seriously than before.
He said: “Up and down Leeds I have been to many places where people have been subjected to noise and anti-social behaviour and it’s a blight on people’s lives.
“For a city the size of Leeds, 11 noise abatement notices in a year isn’t an accurate reflection of the problem of noise nuisance.
“Basically we had a noise service that wasn’t linked to the anti-social behaviour team and working in isolation from the police. By bringing these three bodies together and working more effectively, we’re seeing some really positive results.
“As a city, for the first time, we’re getting on top of noise nuisance.”
Noise nuisance is classed as unreasonable or excessive noise, which generally happens at unsociable hours.
LASBT has a dedicated telephone service for complaints which gets up to 50 calls a night on Fridays and Saturdays.
The team uses marked vans which are dispatched to addresses where there are complaints.
Residents who ignore orders to quieten down face criminal prosecution, fines and the loss of equipment.
In the most extreme cases, the courts can grant premise closure orders, which mean the occupiers must vacate their properties for a set period of time.
Coun Dobson added: “I have seen at first hand the misery caused by noise nuisance in our communities, and while there is certainly no room for complacency, I do believe that the results achieved over the last year demonstrate the action we are willing to take to crack down hard on this problem.”
Headingley has traditionally seen some of the worst problems, with rowdy early hours student parties causing misery for other residents.
In March a temporary closure order was issued against a property in Richmond Avenue after police found out that hundreds of people were due to descend for a party advertised on Facebook.
The following month a party in nearby St Martins Terrace was also shut down.
Figures show the number of noise abatement notices issued in Headingley spiralled from two in 2013-14 to 224 last year.
Coun Janette Walker said: “I am committed to ensure noise nuisance complaints remain a high priority and are resolved as quickly as possible, to allow residents to feel safe and free from any anti-social behaviour”.
Superintendent Sam Millar, who heads Safer Leeds, said: “Unreasonable and persistent noise is a form of anti-social behaviour that can have a really detrimental effect on people’s daily lives. Everyone is entitled not to have their quality of life affected by excessive noise and the police and council work closely in partnership to tackle the issue.
“We have had some significant successes recently using the legislation available to us and will continue to do all we can to find lasting long-term solutions to address this type of behaviour.”
In April a student house party in Headingley was shut down amid complaints about deafening music and anti-social behaviour.
A closure order was issued to residents at the property in St Martin’s Terrace after neighbours reported being kept awake by heavy bass and shouting into the early hours of the morning.
About 50 people were there when officers from Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team turned up, although many others had already left.
Police officers were also called and the music was eventually turned off after repeated requests.
Evidence of drugs and legal highs was also found.
The closure order meant anyone other than tenants had to leave or face arrest.
A landmark case saw a mother of eight kicked out of her privately owned house after hundreds of complaints.
Neighbours of Nicola Spark, 33, at Holmwood View in Meanwood, had to endure regular early hours parties and anti-social behaviour.
She was ordered out of the detached house, which was boarded up after the Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team won a court ruling, under new powers, to have her removed for three months.
It was the first time such action has been carried out in relation to a private property in the city.