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Dudley has the noisiest neighbours in the UK

Written by: Emma Lunn
The pandemic saw complaints about noisy neighbours hit 1,000 a day across the UK, equivalent to 40 an hour, according to Churchill Home Insurance.

Nearly 370,000 noise complaints were made between April 2020 and March 2021, 28% more than the previous year when 289,000 complaints were made. Most councils (86%) reported an increase in noise complaints in 2020/21 compared to 2019/20.

Dudley in the West Midlands recorded the highest number of noise complaints of any council at 26,000. Birmingham also made the top 10, with 10,100 complaints received. North Lanarkshire was the only Scottish council which made it into the top 10, receiving 9,100 noise complaints last year.

Six of the top 10 councils with the highest number of noise complaints were in London. Newham (16,300), Islington (15,900) and Kensington and Chelsea (15,500) were the capital’s noise complaint hotspots. Kensington and Chelsea saw the greatest number of neighbour noise complaints per capita, with 99 for every 1,000 inhabitants.

According to Churchill, neighbour noise has had a negative impact on the mental health of almost a third (32%) of Brits, equivalent to about 16.7 million people. Neighbours playing music was voiced as the worst noise for mental health (34%); this was followed by the noise from children (30%), garden noise (30%), parties (29%) and neighbours coming and going at antisocial hours (24%).

Despite suffering from increased neighbour noise nuisance, just 11% of those affected reported it to their local council. Based on a total of 370,000 noise complaints reported to councils in the past year, this suggests as many as 3.3 million noise issues were caused in 2020/21, an average of more than 9,000 a day and much more than those officially recorded.

In almost five million (29%) cases the victim spoke to their neighbour about the issue but in fewer than a third (29%) of these cases they were successful in stopping the noise. Other common actions taken were contacting the neighbour’s landlord (16%) and reporting them to the police (14%).

Steven Williams, head of Churchill home insurance, said: “The pandemic has seen us confined to our homes which means we’ve probably all become very aware of noises around us. As we go into more of a ‘new normal’, many of us will carry on working from home, at least part of the time, so noisy neighbours will continue to be really disruptive.

“It may be the case that neighbours don’t realise they are being noisy so the first step should always be speaking to them and explaining the problem. If that doesn’t work and they carry on, then keep a record of the type of noise and time of day and speak to your local council about raising a potential noise complaint.”

Donna Dawson, a psychologist, said: “The past 18 months have seen our behaviour change in so many ways. With most of us being limited to our homes on a daily basis, it is understandable that noise complaints have risen. Even small changes in sound can cause increased anxiety and stress for many people, especially if it disrupts home life and makes it difficult to relax, work or look after family.”

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