Noise complaints are being resolved more quickly thanks to a new team of council ‘field officers’, according to a report.
The eight-strong team replaced Brighton and Hove City Council’s out-of-hours noise patrol service despite the reservations of some councillors.
The report – to the council’s Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities and Equalities Committee said: “The original service operated every Friday and Saturday night from 10pm to 3am and there were serious concerns raised about both the effectiveness of the original service and the safety of the staff.
“An alternative approach to responding to out of hours noise has been adopted.
“Now customers are able to email or phone in noise complaints on a Friday and Saturday night.
“These calls and emails have been responded to the following morning with the offer of a visit that day.
“This intervention on Saturday and Sunday enables there to be immediate face-to-face dialogue in an environment away from the challenges and distractions experienced when the incident was taking place the night before.
“This provides an environment where the impact of the disturbance can be properly discussed, including practical solutions to stop the problem escalating.
“Since the initial launch of the team (last September) the complaints investigation procedure requires where possible a visit to the perpetrator to discuss the impact of their actions.
“This is not just for noise but covers all the complaints dealt with by the team.
“We are beginning to notice the impact of this face-to-face interaction and we are already observing that the number of noise complaints resolved by only one intervention has increased.
“Early face-to-face communication is facilitating fast resolution of cases, reducing the number of protracted cases, reducing officer time and this will lead to greater customer satisfaction.
“Currently the revised out of hours noise service only operates over the weekend. To improve the service provided, it is proposed that it will now operate seven days a week.
“Currently any domestic noise complaint received Monday to Friday has a four-day response time.
“It is proposed that all domestic noise complaints will be responded to within 24 hours and again where possible all perpetrators will receive a face-to-face visit.
“The introduction of the field officers has been an opportunity to modernise how we deliver noise services and provide a faster more responsive service.
“We are already seeing that the demand on the out of hours weekend noise service has increased as the profile of the team has developed.
“The demand on the field officer weekend out of hours service is greater than the original noise patrol service.”
The field office manager and seven field officers are spread across nine council services, including planning enforcement and evidence gathering for regulatory teams.
At all four of the council’s recent area housing panel meetings, people complained that they had never seen a field officer and asked what they did.
At one panel, the former council leader Mary Mears said: “I could ask any of these tenants how many field officers they have seen since we heard how wonderful it’s going to be. They will all give the same answer.”
The Conservative councillor added: “They don’t see the field officers. They have a wider remit across the city.”
Her Conservative colleague, Councillor Dawn Barnett, said that she had seen field officers in the north of Hangleton but not on the Knoll Estate.
She said: “The place is a tip. I thought the idea was field officers would help smarten things up.
“We used to have estate inspections. We used to pick things up on these inspections and now nothing is getting done.”
Field office manager Brett Stacey told Councillor Barnett that members of the team had visited the estates 57 times in the first six months.
The progress report on the first six months of the service since it started fully in December is due to be discussed by the council’s Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities and Equalities Committee on Monday (1 July).
The meeting is scheduled to start at 4pm at Hove Town Hall and should be open to the public.