Distressed residents of a new Daventry housing estate failed to have their complaints about industrial noise dealt with properly by the district council.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has hit out at Daventry District Council's failure to properly deal with the complaints, and said the authority has 'repeatedly refused to acknowledge its faults'.
The ombudsman was asked to investigate the concerns after a resident, supported by their neighbour, 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 town. To the south is an industrial estate with several businesses that operate 24 hours a day. The precise location has not been made public so as not to identify the complainants.
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.
In the report, which was published this morning [January 29), the ombudsman has called on the council to issue a written apology to the complainant, for it to agree to the appointment and terms of reference of an independent noise consultant with no previous involvement in the case, and to reserve £3,600 for the complainant and his neighbour for financial remedy (£1,800 each). Alternatively, the funds could be used, if agreed by the complainant, towards providing any noise mitigation works the independent noise consultant might recommend.
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 report states that the council did not take proper account of all the evidence gathered during its investigations – including that from its own officers, one of whom suggested in July 2016 that the homes were ‘not in a state reasonably to be lived in’.
The ombudsman also found the council took into account 'unproven assumptions or irrelevant factors' in making its decision. The council said the man and his wife must have an ‘undue sensitivity to noise’, which the ombudsman said was made 'without evidence'.
Responding to the findings, a spokesman for Daventry District Council said: “Councillors will consider the Ombudsman’s report and the Council’s response to it at the meeting of full council on February 20."