Council ‘faffing’ over noise threat to health say Brixton residents


11pm. Mass singalong outside Brixton Tube station – yards from people's homes
11pm. Mass singalong outside Brixton Tube station – yards from people’s homes

Residents of Tunstall Road, whose pedestrianised eastern end is home to Brixton’s David Bowie mural, have renewed their calls for Lambeth council to act on night-time street noise and anti-social behaviour. The people affected range from toddlers to pensioners and stress that it is not occasional irritation that motivates them but very real threats to their well-being from frequent noise and disturbing anti-social behaviour at all times of the day and night.

And they say that residents in nearby streets complain of the same issues.

The Tunstall Road residents’ complained earlier this year to the official Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) about the way the council has responded to their reports of anti-social behaviour. Their complaint was upheld after the ombudsman discussed a draft report with both residents and the council.

They had complained that the council had failed to act about anti-social behaviour and noise nuisance from people using amplified equipment, drums and megaphones. While the ombudsman upheld the complaint “as there was fault in the way the council responded to reports of anti-social behaviour,” it considers that “agreed action of monitoring is enough to remedy the injustice”.

That ruling was delivered in March this year after the residents had complained in autumn 2017, having made repeated complaints and reports to the council since at least June 2016. In most cases, says the ombudsman, the council “logged the report and advised … that there was no action the council could take, although it was considering the use of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO)”.

Council officials said it was still considering whether a more detailed PSPO is required to regulate busking activity by stopping it after certain times; designating specific locations for busking activity; and regulating the use of amplified equipment. But the officials could not confirm whether or not the council would consult on PSPO proposals, saying that was a decision for the political leadership of the council.

The council told the ombudsman it was not always possible to identify offenders, but the Tunstall Road residents, who are in regular contact with them say the council has, in many cases, been given all the information it needs “apart from their DNA and home address”.

As part of its decision on the complaint, the ombudsman said the council should arrange “suitable monitoring” within six weeks. The decision is dated 6 March 2018, but the Tunstall Road residents say that, although they have been contacted by council officers about monitoring, they have not had an official response from a senior level in the council.

They say council officers have said they will “deal with” half a dozen serial and serious offenders who have been named by residents. But, say the residents, “we have not had a proper, strategic, response from the council”. “Three months down the line,” say the residents “they are faffing about around the edges”.

They ask, for instance, why Lambeth council does not sign up to the London-wide Busker’s Code, introduced by former London mayor Boris Johnson, as many councils have done, rather than discuss writing its own.

Cllr Mo Seedat, council cabinet member for the voluntary sector, partnerships and community safety, said: “We will continue to work with the police, local residents and businesses in getting the balance right between people enjoying themselves, ensuring safety and tackling illegal traders. “We are taking the issues raised seriously, and I’m pleased that the monitoring action we proposed was agreed to by the ombudsman.”