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Residents asked to be considerate neighbours as lockdown brings new challenges for all

PUBLISHED: 14 April 2020

Date issued: 14 April 2020

From loud music and noisy power tools, to banging doors and late-night TV, Colchester Borough Council is seeing a big increase in calls from residents, including key workers, upset or distressed about noise levels from neighbouring properties.

The increase comes as more and more families respond to Government advise to stay home and protect lives to reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

In response, the council is appealing to everyone to be as thoughtful as possible towards their neighbours – many of whom may well be key workers – and is calling on all residents to be aware of the noise levels in their homes and gardens and, where possible, take action to reduce it.

At the same time, it is hoping all communities can show greater tolerance of the noise and activity happening around them.

Cllr Mike Lilley, Portfolio Holder for Communities, Wellbeing and Public Safety, said: “Our local communities are rising to the challenge of the advice to ‘Stay at Home’ and I want to thank them for their commitment and patience in meeting these restrictions which will help save lives.

“However, it means we are all seeing and hearing more of our neighbours than ever before. We urge everyone to think about how noise from our homes could be causing problems and upset to others, especially for our key workers who need time to rest and recuperate at this critical time.”

The top areas of complaint raised with Colchester Borough Council’s officers are:

Music and gaming: Try to avoid playing music and games so loud that your neighbours can hear it, keep the bass level down and, where possible, position speakers away from adjoining walls, floors and ceilings. When outside, try to keep volumes at or below conversation level or preferably wear headphones.

For those who play musical instruments, keep practice sessions short and at reasonable times. If you are a neighbour who can hear someone practicing, be prepared to be patient.

Banging doors and stamping feet: Sound can travel quite easily through walls and floors, so avoid slamming doors and running up or down stairs, especially if you live in a flat or terraced house. If you have laminate or wood flooring, consider the use of rugs in areas with high footfall or where children play.

Dogs barking: If you own a dog try to reduce instances of barking in the home and garden, especially tackling persistent barking. It’s also advisable not to leave your dog outside for long periods.

DIY activity: Please be thoughtful and reasonable if you are finishing or starting new DIY projects. The impact on your neighbours during this difficult time could be greater than you think. Try to avoid this type of work in the evening or early in the morning, particularly at the weekend.

If you can do so whilst maintaining social distancing of a minimum of two metres, talk to your neighbours about your plans and be prepared to compromise if there are times that your neighbour asks you to avoid for a genuine reason.

Exercising at home: With gyms and sports facilities closed many of us are exercising at home. Within flats and terraced homes, try to exercise within reasonable daytime hours; place weights carefully on the floor rather than dropping them; keep repetitive stepping brief and, when exercising to music, wear headphones or keep volumes down.

Household appliances: Be considerate and only use noisy appliances like washing machines, dishwashers and vacuum cleaners during the normal waking hours - this is particularly relevant if you live in a flat or terraced house. Washing machines can be balanced to reduce vibration and by placing appliances on an absorptive surface you can help reduce noise further.

Cllr Lilley added: “Whilst we have powers to investigate complaints about noise under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, we will only deal with situations that would be considered as persistent and unreasonable behaviour. We understand that most people can’t help making noise as they try to go about their day to day lives, we’re calling on everyone to turn down the volume where they can whilst showing tolerance to other people and families in lockdown.”

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Page last reviewed: 14 April 2020


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