Survey reveals decline in out-of-hours services
A third of councils currently offering out-of-hours noise services are considering reducing them, a CIEH survey has revealed.
Of the 156 councils in England currently providing the service, 49 said they expected to scale activity back in the foreseeable future. Just 27 authorities said they currently offer a full 24/7 service.
The figures show a continuing decline in the number of out-of-hours noise teams. A decade ago the service was offered by 245 councils in England, 105 of which were 24/7.
CIEH members have been increasingly concerned over the future of out-of-hours services, with some local authorities admitting they were considering not responding to residents’ complaints.
CEIH principal policy officer Howard Price said: ‘The CIEH is acutely aware of the on-going squeeze on resources in local government and the very real consequences of that.
‘Noise is perhaps the most significant cause of complaint to local authorities, and it is their statutory duty to take reasonable steps to investigate. Although councils do not necessarily need to provide permanent night patrol, to refuse to investigate as a matter of policy would leave them open to legal challenges.’
Lisa Lavia, managing director of the Noise Abatement Society, said the decline in councils’ ability to support out-of-hours noise services due to government funding restrictions was ‘very worrying’.
She added: ‘However, it emphasises the need for closer co-operation between environmental health teams, planning departments, the police and other services wherever possible to balance the needs of local stakeholders while still protecting the rights of residents.
‘We are seeing more and more examples of councils applying collaborative approaches to solve noise issues and urge all stakeholders to support these efforts as a priority.’
Defra was approached for comment for this story.