More than 6,000 noise nuisance complaints not investigated by London council

Lambeth council has agreed to look into long-standing noise nuisance issues after officers admitted, during a Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigation, it had turned down more than 6,300 complaints.

The agreement has come following the Ombudsman’s investigation into a woman’s complaint about the way the council handled her concerns about noise emanating from a neighbouring flat which she said caused her to suffer ill-health.

Officers initially investigated the woman’s complaint, but they did not visit during times when the nuisance occurred. 

In 2016 the council changed its policy so it would not investigate a complaint unless more than three people had complained about the same issue. This meant officers decided not to look into the woman’s further complaint.

During the Ombudsman’s investigation, it became apparent that 6,353 other complaints had not been considered because of the change in policy.

The Ombudsman found fault with the council for changing its policy, which meant it was not meeting its statutory obligations.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said:

“Ongoing noise nuisance can cause significant distress, but Lambeth council’s policy unfairly swept many people’s complaints under the carpet. Councils have a statutory duty to investigate and cannot impose their own limits on what they will and will not consider.

“I’m pleased Lambeth council has now changed its policy to recognise its duties, and will now look into any ongoing concerns that have not been investigated previously.”

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services.

In this case the council has agreed to apologise to the woman for refusing to investigate her complaint, and investigate her complaint and report its findings within six weeks.

It has also agreed to amend its policy to ensure it complies with its statutory duties. It will publicise locally the changes it has made, making it clear it will investigate those complaints it has previously refused to investigate, if the nuisance complained of recurs or is ongoing. 

Article date: 21 September 2018