Brighton & Hove City Council (18 008 352)

Category : Environment and regulation > Antisocial behaviour

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 05 Nov 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Council identified fault during its investigation of this complaint, apologised and provided a satisfactory remedy. This complaint is upheld. No further investigation or remedy is needed in addition to the Council’s investigation into problems with its noise patrol service.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall refer to as Mr B, complains the Council officer turned off the noise patrol phone early on one occasion and that the Council gave the wrong information on its website.
  2. Mr B says he was phoning the out of hours noise service for weeks about noise from his neighbour, unaware the Council had suspended it.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I read the complaint sent by Mr B and discussed the complaint with him.
  2. I considered the Council's responses to Mr B’s complaint.
  3. I gave the Council and Mr B the opportunity to comment on my draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr B made a complaint about noise from his neighbour in March 2016.
  2. Mr B made a further complaint in February 2018. The Council officer noted there was a period of relative quiet until that time.
  3. The Council put recording equipment into Mr B’s flat in March 2018 for 11 days which included two weekends.
  4. The Council said two officers independently reviewed the recording and both decided there was not enough evidence to justify serving a notice. The Council told Mr B this in early April. The Council then offered to reinstall the recording equipment for three weeks. The Council also told Mr B to contact the night-time noise patrol to witness the noise from his neighbours.
  5. The late-night noise abatement service was temporarily suspended by the Council at short notice following concerns about safety procedures and operating arrangements. Mr B complained the Council did not publicise the temporary suspension on its website. The Council apologised and explained that due to errors it did not update the website.
  6. Mr B complained to the Council that the noise patrol phone was turned off when he called it on 2 June. The phone should not have been turned off before 03.00 am, but it was turned off at 02:35 am. The Council accepted this was an error and apologised.
  7. Mr B made an official complaint to the Council. In its stage two response the Council said ‘it is clear there have been failings with the service you have been provided, we would like to apologise for this again. In recognition of the distress caused from being advised to contact the service and it not being available, and for the time and trouble you have taken to raise this complaint we would like to offer a goodwill payment of £75 to you.’
  8. Mr B told me on the telephone the Council has now witnessed the noise and is taking action.

My analysis

  1. The Council has accepted it was at fault when the noise patrol phone was turned off early and for the wrong information on the website. It has apologised and offered a remedy.
  2. In Mr B’s written complaint, he says that he does not consider the £75 is sufficient remedy for the upset and distress caused over 3 years. However, it is clear from the Council’s response the remedy is specifically for the two recent events and it has not considered matters before 2018.
  3. My view is that the Council has investigated Mr B’s complaint, apologised and offered a satisfactory goodwill remedy. I consider the Council has remedied the fault and do not see any benefit in further investigation.

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Final decision

  1. I have completed my investigation of this complaint. This complaint is upheld. There was fault by the Council which caused injustice to Mr B. I am satisfied the Council has taken action to remedy that injustice.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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