John Connell Local Authority Award

John Connell Awards 2009

The John Connell Local Authority Award recognises services, campaigns and schemes concerning noise that are excellent examples of community co-operation, noise pollution education and creative solutions. Controlling excessive and unwanted noise in the community is one of the many tough responsibilities of the Environmental Health Practitioner.

Local Authorities, through the dedication of their Environmental Health Teams, often demonstrate imaginative and sustainable initiatives in the management of noise issues.

Winner: London Borough of Haringey Temporary Accommodation and Mental Health

Haringey Council’s Enforcement Response Team won this prestigious Award for the focus and awareness of two issues which are often connected and result in noise problems;  residents in temporary accommodation, and people suffering from mental illness.

Haringey’s approach involves working with partners to avoid a ‘one size fits all’ policy.  The enforcement policy based on a three stage concept of written warning, abatement notice and prosecution has been enhanced by deliberate consideration of the individual circumstances of each case.

Key features Haringey’s strategy include:

  • provision of a year round 24 hour service supported by an internet based testing system, mobile IT to receive, record and retrieve information and access to the council’s emergency response vehicle

Joint working with:

  • the police at weekends, taking direct action where necessary
  • Homes for Haringey (manages council property)
  • START (single point of entry for all mental health secondary care referrals)
  • Haringey Outreach Service Team (HOST) – round the year support service
  • Antenna Outreach Service
  • Haringey Association for Independent Living (HAIL)
  • Temporary Accommodation Team

Highly Commended: Kirklees Council Partnership Solutions to Noise Problem

Kirklees recognised that noise problems were being dealt with by a wide range of agencies, who, working alone were often ineffective, duplicating effort and giving mixed messages to the public about what could be done to tackle noise issues.

The Environmental Services officers initiated a partnership approach and have been actively involved in many initiatives including:

  • raising awareness through an ‘Environmental Crime Toolkit’ and presentation
  • Operation Focus:  joining a police multi-agency operation to include environmental crimes on the agenda
  • neighbourhood management groups: monthly meetings held in ‘localities’
  • Police support: working to develop strong links with West Yorkshire Police and neighbourhood policing teams
  • ‘Pinchpoints’: a coordinated initiative aimed at reducing anti-social behaviour in the 6 weeks period surrounding Guy Fawkes night
  • Challenge Project: a multi-agency exercise co-ordinated by the police during the summer holidays starting with an ‘Environmental Crime’ themed week
  • empowerment of local residents:  an information pack to send to all new complainants with more information and choice about the different ways to tackle neighbour nuisances.

Highly Commended: Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council New Out of Hours Noise Service – development of a multiagency partnership

Stockton’s submission deals with the new Out of Hours Noise Service, set up using a novel approach with Environmental Health Unit Officers, Security Centre Control officers and uniformed council Enforcement Officers working in partnership to provide a 24/7 service.

Established in a very short time frame, the aim of the Out of Hours Noise Service – to provide a service of professionally high standard that promotes the healthy happy lifestyles of its residents within the Borough – faced some major issues including:

  • lack of communication between service providers
  • limited staff involvement during set up
  • no shared documentation, documentation not validated or robust
  • lack of public information regarding the service
  • service provision becoming two-tiered.

Addressing and resolving these issues through the ongoing work and commitment of a diverse group of people has resulted in a well-received service, with customers’ feedback confirming that a professionally high service is being provided.

Highly Commended: Westminster City Council The Proactive Noise Team

With the highest number of noise complaints nationally (2009 national survey following a Freedom of Information reguest and research by Rockwool), Westminster has had a reactive noise team since 1992.  The team handled 19,000 complaints in 2008 with the aim of responding to all noise complaints within 45 minutes of receiving a call.

The high volume of complaints, and time pressure on the noise team to spend time with each complainant, resulted in some complaints being difficult to resolve and ultimately to long-running and repeat noise complaints.

The Proactive Noise Team was formed in April 2008 to deal with long running and difficult to resolve noise complaints.   The aim is to select on a regular basis the top complaints and provide a proactive and in-depth investigation with the aim of concluding each one to the satisfaction of all parties.

The Proactive Team is committed to discovering underlying conditions that may be the source of the issue, and finding solutions.  Highlights of this commitment are:

  • establishing strong contact with the housing associations in the Borough
  • close work with the Crime and Disorder Reduction Service (CDRS)
  • liaison with GPs, facilitating sound enrichment strategies

The team has developed strong relationships with key stakeholders including:  the Metropolitan Police, Fire Brigade, Housing Associations, Community Mental Health Teams and other Westminster departments.

Since its formation the team have resolved 11 long standing complaints which previously accounted for 947 of the total complaints received.  By providing a proactive officer to a limited number of complaints there is a personal touch, customer reassurance and support.  The proactive team not only acts as an enforcement team, but also as a support team, uncovering the underlying issues and facilitating help that is needed.

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