Big rise in Leeds noisy neighbour complaints

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NOISY neighbours are causing misery for thousands of beleaguered residents across Leeds, the YEP can reveal.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that problems with rowdy behaviour have forced almost 8,000 residents to make calls to Leeds City Council during the night since September 2011.

An out-of-hours service, established last year for those “at their wits end” has seen a huge surge in the number of calls, with more and more residents refusing to suffer in silence.

The figures obtained by the YEP show that 7,799 calls have been made to the out-of-hours team since September 2011.

And 6,898 were logged with the council’s Environmental Protection team working through the day during the same period, with some calls carried over from the night.

In the same period last year, 7,276 calls were logged in total, before an out of hours service had been established.

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Responding to the figures, councillor Peter Gruen, chair of the Safer Leeds Partnership said: “Evidence shows that many of the noise complaints we receive – day and night – are one-off incidents that could be easily avoided if people took a little time to consider the consequences of their actions.

“However, where people fail to take a more neighbourly attitude and cause communities to suffer with repeated incidents, we can and will step in to stop excess noise making people’s lives a misery.

“We recently re-organised how our noise nuisance team operates, with noise nuisance staff now embedded within the multi-agency Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team and able to provide a joined up response that considers the full anti-social impact of noise nuisance.

“The night-time service is an emergency service for people who are at their wit’s end with rowdy or noisy behaviour who feel vulnerable or at risk from ongoing incidents.”

According to the council, loud music is the reason residents most often feel the need to make a complaint- accounting for 70 per cent of the calls logged by the out of hours service.

Noise from pets was next on the list, accounting five per cent of calls.

Television noise and parties both made up four per cent of calls each, with annoying alarms going off accounting for another three per cent.

The figures also show which council wards in the city have been the centre of the most number of complaints about noise from those living there.

In the last year, the City and Hunslet ward had the most number of calls, with 528 coming in.

Burmantofts and Richmond Hill saw the second highest number of calls, with 444.

Unpromisingly, Hyde Park and Woodhouse (416) and Headingley (410) also made the list, followed by Kirkstall (407)

Both Hyde Park and Headingley have large student populations, which has been known to lead to clashes with other residents in the area.

That frustration boiled over in October last year, when residents in parts of Headingley hit out at the Noise Nuisance Service and the responses they have had received to their complaints.

Michael Rowan, 68, who lived on Langdale Gardens in Headingley for more than 20 years, said at the time: “I have never had a response that has been satisfactory.

“There have been times when I have been able to get through but it has been to no avail.

“They just aren’t interested and the fact is that they don’t have the time they claim to have.”

Speaking to the YEP this week, Lesley Jeffries, chair of The Headingley Network residents’ group believes the root of the problem there lies with having a constantly shifting population.

She said: “Because people here can potentially have new neighbours every year, one year you can have nice neighbours and the next they could be noisy.

“That lack on consistency is the worst – not knowing when you’re going to be able to get a good night’s sleep and when there’s going to be noise. One of the big issues is people leaving the pubs and bars who, because it’s so loud in there, don’t realise they making so much noise.

“But in my experience, persistent noise can really make life miserable. If you have small children for example, and you’re losing quite a lot of sleep already, that can be the thing that tips you over the edge.

“Unfortunately I don’t think many people believe in the systems that have been put in place to help. The universities have tried and the council have tried but it’s not made much difference.”