Getting Your Complaint Prioritised
Each local authority officer deals with hundreds of complaints each year; not all are serious and not all will necessitate a prolonged investigation. However, as they will be undertaking a number of other duties in addition to noise investigations, you will immediately be subject to competition from other sufferers.
Here are our top twenty tips for getting your complaint prioritised:
1. Get the name, telephone number and email address of your case officer.
2. Follow their instructions carefully.
3. Use out-of-hours and call-out services as much as possible when the noise is happening.
4. Contact the case officer with updates frequently; preferably in writing.
5. Start a log/diary and do not stop completing it until the problem has gone.
6. Be persistent.
7. Copy their Director of Services into important correspondence.
8. Make a an official complaint if you feel that your issue is not being investigated.
9. Contact your ward Councillors if you feel that not enough is being done.
10. Get other neighbours to complain if they are affected.
11. Don’t let things hang. After each step is completed ask what is the next step.
12. Request appointments when the noise is most likely to happen.
13. Ask for reasons and justifications to be put in writing.
14. Ask the officer to state whether they thought the noise was reasonable or a nuisance.
15. If your case is closed or there is a lack of action complete a Freedom of Investigation request.
16. Remain calm at all times and never raise your voice.
17. Try not to come across as arrogant, condescending or sarcastic.
18. Be positive to remain motivated; a can-do attitude can rub-off.
19. Draft your emails first and review before sending.
20. Be as specific as possible about the details.
If you are in any of the “high risk” groups for noise think carefully before emphasising this point. High risk groups include those who are:
- Very young or very old;
- Those with relevant pre-existing health conditions;
- Shift workers; or
Local authorities are often cautious of risk groups if (a) they are not considered as “the reasonable man”; and (b) if they are seen as overly sensitive due to their grouping/condition. This is due to interpretations of nuisance law which forbids judgements on nuisance being biased towards particular sensitivities. We feel that being in such groups could be one factor considered for prioritising the investigation of complaints from such persons; as long as the risk is not taken into account in the formation of opinion as to whether nuisance exists.
Examples of other factors that may be used to prioritise cases by investigating authorities may include:
- The number of people who are affected;
- Provision of suitable evidence from the sufferers (e.g. log sheets);
- The frequency of occurrence and duration of the noise; and
- Whether noise prevents sleep and/or is injurious to health.