Drum out the noisemakers

NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 05:00 21/12/2012
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An Invercargill man who says he is fed up with his neighbour playing the drums has joined a growing chorus of residents calling noise control, prompting the Invercargill City Council to take a firmer stance on the problem.

Council environmental health manager John Youngson said the council had reviewed its noise control policy and amended it to give it more powers to deal with repeat offenders.

It would have "zero tolerance" for repeat offenders, get the message of the problem out into the community and develop clear guidelines for enforcement officers and after-hours contractors when handling complaints.

"Nobody likes to live beside noisy neighbours and if the council can be proactive about dealing with the issue, then we can achieve a decrease in complaints," Mr Youngson said.

Invercargill man Bob Hartsuiker said he worked night shift and when he wanted to sleep, his neighbour would start playing the drums.

He said he had complained about his noisy neighbour many times but did not believe the council had the "balls" to put a stop to the drummer.

Mr Youngson said Mr Hartsuiker's complaint would be investigated if the council received more details from him.

Comments on The Southland Times Facebook page highlighted a frustration with noisy neighbours, with one person saying her neighbour had a fetish for late-night lawnmowing, which wakes up her 2-year-old.

Another man said one of his neighbours was a "noisy drunk" and the neighbour on the other side had parties with a stereo in the garage.

Mr Youngson said the hike in noisy neighbour callouts had increased the cost for ratepayers, with the council spending $70,000 in the past financial year and a similar figure was expected this year.

If the same offenders continued to pop up, the council planned to come down tougher on them. They would probably be fined and have their stereos removed, Mr Youngson said.

The maximum fine was $750, he said.

The council would embark on a radio public education campaign in coming months to make people aware how to address noise control issues in their street and to remind them to be considerate of their neighbours.

Most people expected some partying from neighbours at this time of year and the council encouraged people to talk to their neighbours so they knew what to expect, but to also keep the noise to a reasonable level, Mr Youngson said.

People also worked night shift so there was a need to be mindful during the day as well, he said.

BY THE NUMBERS

Noise control callouts have increased in the past five years. 1425 in 2008 1662 in 2009 1748 in 2010 2076 in 2011 1155 to the end of September 2012

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