'Inadequate' Merton Council noise patrol service under fire
A “hopelessly inadequate” noise patrol service should be beefed up into a 24-hour service after a surge in complaints, councillors have argued.
Merton Council is considering employing environmental health officers to investigate noise complaints all year round after it emerged they only have a team on duty on Saturday nights.
The problem was highlighted when a resident in Raynes Park was also told by Merton Council there was no one to investigate his complaint against a nearby bar over the Christmas period.
Ben Shayler, who lives near the Apostles bar in the Approach, said no one from the council could help him on Saturday, December 22 – two days after the council served the order on the bar.
He was told by the environmental health department, the council do not provide a weekend service over the Christmas period and returned to weekend shifts on January 5.
He said: “What is the purpose of the abatement notice if no-one is available to come out and verify that the noise is continuing, and when they are, it is only on limited Fridays and Saturday evenings?”
Councillor David Dean, who represents Dundonald ward, said: "This bar has been served a noise abatement notice but the council have not followed up properly.
"Over Christmas and New Year the council noise team were all on holiday at the busiest time of the year. That's madness.
"In addition, clearly the music continues to blare outside the premises and the council seems to have cocked a deaf 'un.
"We're being let down by this department."
But Catherine Jassen, who runs The Apostles, said they had installed a council-approved sound barrier after the first complaint and explained the second complaint came about because of noise coming from the flat upstairs.
Conservative Councillor Suzanne Evans said the council’s overview and scrutiny commission (OSC) should investigate what she called a “hopelessly inadequate out-of-hours noise patrol service”.
She said: “Noise nuisance caused by selfish neighbours and businesses is a serious and growing problem in Merton.
“Moving towards a 24/7 out-of-hours service will be of enormous comfort to all those who suffer noise nuisance and sends perpetrators a strong message that their behaviour will not be tolerated.”
Figures released this month by Merton Council show levels of complaints and statutory notices served continue to be higher in Merton than in the neighbouring boroughs of Sutton, Kingston and Richmond.
Last year Merton had 2,467 environmental health complaints, compared with 1,794 in Sutton, 1,578 in Kingston and 1,329 in Richmond.
Merton also served 33 statutory notices, including noise abatement orders, over the same period, compared with 23 in Sutton, 21 in Kingston and four in Richmond.
OSC chairman Councillor Peter Southgate said: “Councillors recognise the excellent work currently carried out by environmental health officers in dealing with noise pollution.
“However, we are always looking to further improve our service to residents and one of the proposals we will put forward to Cabinet is to request officers explore how feasible it would be to deliver a 24/7 noise patrol service.”