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Durham County Council (18 017 121)

Category : Environment and regulation > Noise

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 14 Mar 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complained about the Council carrying out noise monitoring in the flat below. He says this was an invasion of his privacy and Human Rights. The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council which would warrant an investigation.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains that the Council undertook noise monitoring in the flat below and that this unreasonably affected his privacy. he says his personal life has been disturbed and this has affected his health.

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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
  • it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
  • it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome, or
  • we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants.

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

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered all the information which Mr X submitted with his complaint and he has commented on the draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr X says the Council informed him that it would be carrying out noise monitoring in the flat below following complaints about noise nuisance. It was required to tell him that the equipment was being installed. It told him later that the noise of his ordinary domestic life had been recorded as a borderline nuisance and that it would carry out further monitoring to determine if there was a statutory nuisance.
  2. Mr X complained about the Council monitoring his personal life and that this could not be a nuisance. He says that the actions breached his human rights to privacy under the 1998 Human Rights Act. The Council told him it does not consider its actions to be a breach of his rights.
  3. Councils have a duty under the Environmental Protection Act to investigate complaints about nuisance. The Ombudsman would not criticise a council for carrying out its statutory duty. Only the courts can determine whether a breach of the Human Rights legislation has taken place.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council which would warrant an investigation.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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