NORTH Lanarkshire and West Lothian have become two of the UK’s top ten noisy neighbour hotspots as a new study found that the number of complaints more than doubled in a year in parts of Scotland during the Covid pandemic.
North Lanarkshire, the local authority area with 9,100 noise complaints had the highest per capita number of complaints of any Scottish council area and the sixth highest across the UK.
West Lothian came a close second in Scotland with 4,631 complaints in 2020/21 – the eighth highest local authority area in the UK.
It comes from a new study which has found that neighbours’ children (36%), concern over people having parties (33%) and gardens (32 %) were the worst causes of noise causing poor mental health in Scotland.
Nearly 100 noisy neighbour complaints were lodged every day in Scotland in 2020/21 – an annual rise of eight per cent.
More than 35,600 noise complaints were made in Scotland between April 2020 and March 2021, 2,800 more than the previous year.
In North Lanarkshire which accounted for more than a quarter (26 per cent) of the country’s noise complaints total, there was a 13 per cent drop in complaints over the year. But it was the only Scottish council area to make the top ten of UK local authorities with the highest number of noise complaints.
It recorded the most complaints in Scotland, when taking into account local authority’s populations, with 26.8 per 1,000 residents. West Lothian came a close second with 25.7 followed by Falkirk (22.4) and Aberdeen (21.3).
The UK council area with the highest complaints per 1,000 residents was the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea with 99, with Dudley in the West Midlands a close second with 81.8.
In October, North Lanarkshire Council threatened to evict troublesome tenants in the wake of a rise in house parties in a Wishaw block of flats.
Police were called to several incidents in the Coltness area and said extra patrols had been put in place with the council giving tenancy warnings for “a number of noise related complaints”.
At the time Stephen Llewellyn, the council head of housing solutions, said: “We’re in the middle of a public health pandemic and government guidance on physical distancing and social gathering prohibits groups and other households gathering. Tenants must follow this guidance for their own safety as well as the safety of others.
“Antisocial behaviour which makes the lives of others miserable is not acceptable and we will pursue legal action against offenders which may lead to eviction.”
The council has since said that there ended up being no evictions.
Police in Scotland had been given powers to break up and disperse house parties amid concerns about links between large indoor gatherings and the spread of Covid-19 cases.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said at the time that large house parties posed “a real and significant risk of causing clusters and outbreaks”.
The survey of Scotland’s local authorities carried out by Churchill Home Insurance also found the biggest rise in complaints came on the Shetland Islands where the number soared from 101 to 236, a 133.7% rise. Dumfries and Galloway came second with a 70.5% increase, followed by West Lothian (54.9%) and East Ayrshire (52%).
At the other end of the scale, West Dunbartonshire did not receive any neighbour noise complaints last year, while the Scottish Borders received just 67 (-29.5%) and South Ayrshire 98 (-39.5).
Separate research conducted by Opinium found that neighbour noise has had a negative impact on the mental health of over a third of Scots (34 per cent), around 1.5 million people.
Noise from loud animals (22%) and neighbours entering and leaving at anti-social hours (18%) also ranked highly as having a negative impact on wellbeing.
And while over two in five (41 per cent) of those in Scotland, 1.8 million people, are more aware of their own noise now, a similar proportion (42%, or 1.9m) are also more aware of annoying neighbours now than before the pandemic.
Psychologist Donna Dawson, 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.
“When subjected to ongoing noise that is out of your control, there are a few techniques which might help you cope. These include moving to another room if possible and use a distraction of your own, such as TV, music or radio; use earplugs to deaden the strength of the sound; take deep breaths from your diaphragm on a slow count of ten on both the inhale and exhale to relax yourself; and even try some vigorous exercise, like jumping jacks, to burn off those stress hormones. It is always best to try speaking to a neighbour if you feel their noise is unreasonable, but do so when you are not feeling anxious or angry at the time.”
Steven Williams, head of Churchill home insurance, said that as many will carry on working from home at least part of the time 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,” he said.