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Cranking it up in Noise Action Week
Tuesday 24th May, 2011

Barking dogs, booming music, fireworks and burglar alarms.

It’s enough to give you sleepless nights. Or long term stress. Or aggravation with the neighbours.

Noise pollution and nuisance are on the rise and it’s enough to drive people up the wall.

In fact, in a typical year Wigan Council’s (Places Directorate) receive more than a thousand complaints from irate members of the public who are having their well-earned peace and quiet disrupted.

But with a bit of common sense, consideration and forethought, most of the aggravation and upset associated with unwelcome noise can be avoided.

That’s according to the Council’s Environmental Protection Team who have been out and about as part of national Noise Action Week, an annual campaign which kicked off on Monday. They are making themselves heard with a series of special roadshows at Wigan’s Asda store on 23rd, 24th and 25th May, offering shoppers and members of the public advice on all types of noise and how to deal with it.

Environmental Protection Teams Manager Caroline Maffia says: “Noise Action Week aims to raise awareness about the simple, practical measures people can take to solve such things as neighbour noise problems.

“Our team gets involved in many disputes between people who have issues about noise, often between neighbours. Problems range from barking dogs to the impact of the recent and growing trend towards hard and laminate flooring, which is generally incompatible with terraced houses and flats.

“More often than not, our initial advice is to encourage people to contact their neighbour and make them aware of the issue because in many cases, neighbours are totally unaware they are making somebody else’s life a misery – and are sometimes appalled by their lack of sensitivity.

“So we really try to promote better communication between neighbours and to educate people about what steps they can take to help reduce noise in their communities.”

When the environmental protection team is asked to investigate a noise dispute between neighbours they first ask the complainant to keep a diary of when the noise occurs.

“After this evidence has been gathered we will go out and speak to the neighbour in a bid to resolve the problem before we need to take further action,” says Caroline. “If that fails we do have the option of setting up noise monitoring equipment to record what’s going on which can be used as further evidence against the noise makers.”

The environmental protection team offers the following advice for some of the more common noise problems, including:
  • Loud music – We all like to crank it up once in a while! But your taste in music may not be everyone’s cup of tea. “Our advice is to make sure speakers are turned away from party walls and floors, and keep the volume reasonable - taking into account the time of day,” says Caroline. Earphones may be another answer. If you play a musical instrument and need to practice, consider carefully where and when. If you tell your neighbours that you will be making a noise, and agree what days and times will cause them least disturbance, you are less likely to have complaints.
  • Dogs barking – Dogs bark out of loneliness, boredom and frustration – but it’s anything but a walk in the park for the next door neighbour on the receiving end. “Dog owners are advised to get their dog acclimatised to being on its own, and if necessary to get professional advice,” says Caroline. “We also advise new dog owners to keep their immediate neighbours posted about their new arrival, particularly if they are taking on a pup or training a young dog.”
  • Time gentlemen, please! – “If you are leaving a pub, bar, club, party or friend’s house - be considerate - say your goodbyes quietly,” says Caroline. “Avoid shouting, slamming doors, revving car engines - especially late at night.”

The high pitched drone of car and burglar alarms can be another source of noise nuisance. “It’s a particular issue at this time of year when people go on holiday and their house alarm goes off. We would always advise people make sure they leave a key behind with a trusted family member of friend to avoid this type of problem.”

Wigan Council’s champion for the environment and local neighbourhoods, Cllr Kevin Anderson, says:
“Noise can affect people's quality of life. Loud noise isn’t simply annoying. When it's persistent and anti-social, it can cause genuine misery and distress.

“Noise Action Week encourages people to be considerate, particularly towards their neighbours. It's only by letting people know how much their noise can impact on others can we tackle these problems and build stronger, more cohesive communities.

“We are always keen to resolve such problems by talking to all the parties and reaching an agreement. But if people persist in making noise and disregard the feelings of those they have to live alongside then we are not afraid to take enforcement action.”
  • For advice and help with unacceptable levels of neighbour noise, members of the public can call the council’s Environmental Protection Team on 01942 827110 for Wigan and 01942 733349 for Leigh.

  • Council tenants should contact Wigan & Leigh Housing on 01942 705040.

  • You can report anti-social behaviour by calling 01942 404364.

  • Find out more about Noise Action Week at www.noiseactionweek.org.uk


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