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London Borough of Barnet (17 018 604)

Category : Environment and regulation > Noise

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 26 Mar 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council’s refusal to investigate volume levels at a local cinema. An investigation by the Ombudsman is unlikely to find fault with the Council and there is not enough evidence Mr X has been caused a significant personal injustice.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, says the volume levels at his local cinema were too high during a recent visit. The Council has said it will not investigate.

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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. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe:
  • it is unlikely we would find fault, or
  • the fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained, or
  • the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered Mr X’s complaint to the Ombudsman. I gave him an opportunity to comment on my draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr X complained to the Council the volume levels at his local cinema were too high during a recent visit. He said the volume was ‘painful’ and asked the Council to investigate. The Council responded and said it did not investigate such complaints. It said Mr X should complain to the manager of the cinema.
  2. Councils have powers to investigate complaints about noise that could be a statutory nuisance (covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990). For a noise to count as a 'statutory nuisance' it must do one of the following:
    • Unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises;
    • Injure health or be likely to injure health.
  3. In my view, it is unlikely an investigation by the Ombudsman would find fault with the Council’s advice to Mr X. Cinemas are by their nature noisy and a person can choose not to attend. We also only investigate cases where the alleged fault has caused the person complaining significant personal injustice. I do not consider that to the case here.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint. This is because an investigation is unlikely to find fault causing significant personal injustice.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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