Nuisance neighbour gripes revealed

Hampshire Chronicle: Vermin is one reason that residents complain to councils, research shows Vermin is one reason that residents complain to councils, research shows

Angry residents made hundreds of thousands of complaints about their nuisance neighbours last year, new research has found.

More than three quarters of councils across the UK revealed they received nearly half a million complaints from householders about their neighbours' behaviour, pets or properties, according to research by Churchill Home Insurance.

Some 200,120 complaints were about noisy neighbours between January and September last year, while another 104,828 raised concerns about the condition of nearby homes such as poor hygiene, messy gardens and vermin.

More than 93,500 complaints were about rubbish being dumped in gardens or private alleyways, while 46,539 complaints were related to nuisance pets including dangerous animals or vast numbers of pets being kept at properties.

Some 21,090 complaints were about parked vehicles causing disruptions, Churchill said.

In total, 466,156 complaints were made about nuisance neighbours, according to Freedom of Information (FOI) responses from 318 councils across the country.

Of the local authorities to respond to Churchill, Fife, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Westminster in London received the most statutory nuisance complaints - when a council has a duty to investigate - per head of population in the UK, the company said.

Councils handed out more than 4,200 noise abatement notices between January and September last year, including 583 in Westminster alone, while 644 notices were broken during the period, the insurers found.

Fife council received the most complaints per head with 19,070 statutory nuisance concerns - equivalent to 53 complaints per 1,000 people, according to Churchill.

This was followed by Newcastle with 45 complaints per 1,000 and Westminster with 40 complaints per 1,000, the company said.

The Isles of Scilly was described by Churchill as "perhaps the most harmonious place in Britain" after its local council recorded a single nuisance complaint and no statutory complaints between January and September last year.

Nottinghamshire county, Worcestershire county and Gwynedd in North Wales also appeared to have the most peaceful neighbourhoods, with less than one statutory nuisance complaint per 1,000 people, Churchill said.

Meanwhile, London boroughs - Westminster, Tower Hamlets, Southwark and Wandsworth - each received about 5,000 residential noise complaints, it added.

Martin Scott, head of Churchill home insurance, said: "These findings present a worrying picture of the affects other people and properties near our homes have on our lives. It's a reminder to all of us to consider that our parties, pets and general property maintenance may be causing our neighbours undue amounts of stress."

Elsewhere, Bristol City Council received some 3,970 statutory nuisance complaints along with 1,894 in Plymouth, Churchill found.

Leicester City Council received 1,746 complaints, Hull had 2,635, Swansea received 2,851 complaints and Gloucester had 1,227, the insurance company revealed.

Roy Stewart, Fife council's protective services senior manager, said: "A direct comparison between one local authority area and another is difficult as we haven't been able to see or compare the range of individual responses by individual councils.

"Councils across the UK may provide a range of different services. In Fife, for example, we have a night time noise team and a pest control team which many local authorities may not have or have delivered by outside organisations on their behalf.

"This may mean they haven't included these services in their figures as a result.

"Fife Council also takes the issue of any kind of nuisance very seriously and is very proactive in publicising the range of ways in which people in Fife can report concerns, including online reporting, which may also lead to a higher number.

"And although every complaint received is investigated fully, not every complaint is upheld. Indeed many complaints, following initial investigation or even a simple phone call, can be resolved."

Steve Harrison, Westminster City Council's strategic director of premises management, said: "Westminster is a small, highly populated area sitting at the heart of one of the busiest cities in the world. Add to that the transient nature of its residential population, the daily turnaround of a million workers and visitors, plus Westminster's thriving night-time economy and you have a unique borough with a unique set of opportunities - and challenges.

"As for noise, Westminster is the only council in the country to have a team specifically dealing with complaints 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - so it's little wonder we take more calls than most. Our residents know we take noise issues seriously and figures show that the vast majority of cases are sorted after just one call."

A Newcastle City Council spokesman said: "Night-time noise can have a serious effect on the quality of life for our residents so we have a night-time noise team which acts on complaints and records incidents so we can deal effectively with the problem. It is a service which our residents value and we continue to intervene at an early stage so we can nip noise problems in the bud.

"If residents have a problem we ask them to contact us as soon as possible as we like to resolve problems before having to resort to formal action."

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