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Daventry District Council fails to tackle industrial noise complaint properly

Some homeowners on a new housing development in the Daventry area have been plagued by excessive noise from a nearby industrial estate because the district council has not done enough to investigate their concerns, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman reports.

The Ombudsman was asked to investigate the concerns after a resident made a complaint about the council’s handling of the case. The resident lives on a development of around 200 houses on the edge of the council’s area. To the south of the development is an industrial estate with several businesses which operate 24 hours a day.

After moving to the development, the man and his neighbour reported regular concerns including noise from vehicles, tannoy announcements and people shouting at unsociable times in the night or early morning. The council also received several complaints from other residents from the development.

The Ombudsman’s report found the council’s decision to close its noise investigation was not made properly. The Ombudsman is not satisfied the council took proper account of all the evidence gathered during its investigations – including that from its own officers, one of whom suggested at one point the homes were ‘not in a state reasonably to be lived in’. The council also failed to carry out investigations in the way it said it would and those investigations were subject to delay.

The Ombudsman also found the council took into account unproven assumptions or irrelevant factors in making its decision. For example, consistently saying the man and his wife must have an ‘undue sensitivity to noise’ despite having no evidence for that statement. 

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“The family in this case have been left distressed by both the situation they found themselves in and the council’s response.

“We do not know whether the council can now do anything to prevent the noise the family and their neighbours have repeatedly contacted it about, but there is enough evidence to suggest this might be possible.

“I am therefore disappointed that, despite making repeated efforts to get the council to agree to remedy this complaint, it has repeatedly refused to acknowledge its faults.

“I now call upon Daventry District Council to carry out my recommendations and work with both experts and local residents to see if there are measures that can be put in place to mitigate the problems these people face.”

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 should apologise to the resident, accept the findings of the investigation and agree the terms of reference for appointing an independent noise consultant with no previous experience of the complaint.

It should also confirm in writing it will meet the resident once the noise consultant’s report is finalised to discuss its findings. It should then put in writing its response to the report setting out what it plans to do.

Additionally, it should set aside £3,600 to be either split between the resident and his neighbour or put towards providing noise mitigation works the consultant might recommend.

Article date: 29 January 2020