SANITARY CONDITION OF PRIVATE HOUSES.
In many houses the over-crowding is very great, each room being occupied by a family. It is usually found too that families with children congregate in the same house, because the parties who occupy houses where there are not any children object to having them introduced, on account of the noise they make and the trouble which they give. The consequence is that some houses have as many as 50 or 60 inmates. There is a clause under the Nuisances Removal Act, sec. 29, by which the Vestry is called on to take proceedings before a Magistrate to abate over-crowding, if it is certified to be such as to endanger health. No prosecutions have been taken under this clause, but it is probable that in future years they may be considered advisable.
PUBLIC HEALTH (LONDON) ACT, 1891, SECTION 16. Bye-Laws made by the Parish of St. Mary, Battersea, in the County of London being the Sanitary Authority for the said Parish, For the Prevention of Nuisances.
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6. Every person who shall lay or cause to be laid in any street any litter or other matter in case of sickness to prevent noise, shall lay the same so that it may be evenly distributed over the surface of the part of the street intended to be covered, and shall, when the occasion ceases, within forty-eight hours after remove or cause to be removed from such street the litter or other matter so laid in such street.
Resolved — That the Clerk be authorised to write in reply, stating that in the opinion of the Vestry it is advisable that a By-law should be framed prohibiting the throwing of orange peel on the footways, and also that a By-law should be framed to obviate as much as possible noises in the streets after 12 o’clock at night, and that in the meantime posters be printed and circulated in the parish cautioning persons against throwing orange peel on the footways.
The Board have again had under consideration the subject of the desirability of bye-laws being made for the control or suppression of street cries or noises in the Metropolis. The Board in April, 1894, suggested to the London County Council that they should make bye-laws relative to (a) obstruction of thoroughfares by offering goods for sale ; (b) annoyance by shooting galleries, swing boats, &c.; (c) occupation of land by squatters, gipsies, &c., and the Council have now asked for the opinion of the Board with regard to bye-laws being made as to (1) street noises; (2) shooting galleries, roundabouts, &c.; (3) lights to vehicles; (4) keeping noisy animals. The Board approved of such bye-laws being made and they suggested that the operations of the bye-laws should extend to itinerant musicians, and that those persons should not be allowed to carry on their vocation in the streets after 10 p.m. The Council were also informed that the Board were still of opinion that the matters mentioned in their letter of April, 1894, should be dealt with by bye-laws. A Bill on the subject has been introduced into Parliament and the Board have presented a petition in its favour.
Street Noises, &c.
The Vestry have had before them letters from the County Council asking the opinion of the Vestry as to the desirability of the Council making bye-laws to suppress nuisances from noise arising from shouting to sell goods, shooting galleries, roundabouts and steam organs, and also as to requiring vehicles to carry lights after sunset; and from the Paddington Vestry, expressing the opinion that, having regard to the varying conditions and requirements of different parts of the Metropolis, the Vestries and District Boards should have the power, subject to the approval of the Local Government Board, of making such bye-laws. On the question of street shouting the Council has received a letter from the Home Secretary expressing the opinion that a bye-law which is in force in Liverpool and many other places in the kingdom, in the following form, would be a valid one if adopted by the Council:—
“No person shall, for the purpose of hawking, selling or distributing any newspaper or other article, shout, or use any bell, gong, or noisy instrument in such a manner as to cause nuisance or annoyance to the residents or passengers,” and such bye law, if made, would be enforced by the police. The Home Secretary points out that the requirement that public annoyance must be proved is an important safeguard against the oppressive application of the prohibition, and that it is not likely that Parliament would accept a more stringent provision. The Vestry passed the following resolutions:—
(1) That the Council be informed that the Vestry is in favour of such a bye-law being made and applied in the County of London.
(2) That the Council be informed that in the opinion of the Vestry it is desirable that powers should be obtained for Vestries and District Boards to make bye-laws to control the nuisance arising from shooting galleries, roundabouts and steam organs.
(3) That the Council be informed that in the opinion of the Vestry it is desirable that all vehicles should be required to carry lights after sunset, such requirement being enforced by the Council.
(4) That the Council be informed that in the opinion of the Vestry it is desirable that powers should be obtained for Vestries and District Boards to make bye-laws to regulate the keeping of noisy animals. [. . .] Gambling in the Streets—The Vestry have had their attention called to the prevalence of gambling in the streets of Clerkenwell, especially among youths, and they have written to the Superintendent of Police for the Division asking his assistance to stop the nuisance. [. . .]
Fire Alarm. — At the suggestion of the Vestry the County Council have fixed a fire alarm in St. John’s Square.
This Bill would empower occupiers or lodgers to require itinerant musicians or singers to desist from playing or singing in any public place near his house or premises, under a penalty of forty shillings or imprisonment for a period not exceeding fourteen days. The Board have presented a petition in favour of the Bill.
Ventilation requirements for registered tenement-houses:
Many houses are ventilated only by air currents coming in through the water-closets and drains, and down the cold chimneys. It must be realized that each fire carries up its chimney an average of 40 cubic feet of air per minute and that this large body of air cannot go out up the chimney unless counter-provision be made for its entrance into the room.
[. . .]
The staircase face of the inlet should be guarded by a silk flap-valve. This works without noise. Being very light, it rises instantly under the suction of the fire and allows air to pass freely from the staircase into the room. But when no fire is alight the silk flap-valve falls down and closes the inlet. This prevents reflux into the staircase, which would be attended by a down-draught through the chimney into the room.
Report on correspondence with the London County Council
Q. As to suggesting regulations for the further suppression of street cries, railway whistles, and other objectionable and unnecessary noises, within the County of London?
A. We are of opinion that these are matters which more particularly concern the police, who ought to have authority to enforce such regulations as may be considered necessary.
The Borough Council has also made the following by-laws under the provisions of the Municipal Corporations Act, 1882, the Local Government Act, 1888, and the London Government Act, 1899:—
Noise from Organs connected with Shows, &c. No person shall, in connection with any show, roundabout, exhibition, or performance held or placed on any vacant ground adjoining or near to a street, make or cause or permit or suffer to be made, any loud or continuous noise by means of any organ or other similar instrument to the annoyance or disturbance of residents, and any person offending against this by-law shall, on summary conviction, be liable for the first offence to a penalty not exceeding forty shillings, and for every subsequent offence to a penalty not exceeding £5.
Noisy Hawking. No person shall, for the purpose of hawking, selling, or advertising any goods, call or shout in any street, so as to cause annoyance to the inhabitants of the neighbourhood. Any person who shall offend against the foregoing by-law shall be liable, for every such offence, to a fine not exceeding forty shillings.
BY-LAWS FOR THE GOOD RULE AND GOVERNMENT OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE COUNTY OF LONDON.
By-Laws made by the London County Council in pursuance of the provisions of Section 23 of the Municipal Corporations Act, 1882, and Section 16 of the Local Government Act, 1888. By-Laws made on 19th July, 1898.
Steam Organs, Shooting Galleries, Roundabouts, &c. No person shall in any street or on any land adjoining or near thereto, use or play, or cause to be used or played, any steam organ or other musical instrument worked by mechanical means to the annoyance or disturbance of residents or passengers. No person shall in any street or on any land adjoining or near thereto, keep or manage, or cause to be kept or managed, a shooting gallery, swing boat, roundabout, or any other construction of a like character, so as to cause obstruction or danger to the traffic of any such street.
Noisy Animals. No person shall keep within any house, building or premises, any noisy animal which shall be or cause a serious nuisance to residents in the neighbourhood. Provided that no proceedings shall be taken against any person for an offence against this by-law until after the expiration of a fortnight from the date of the service on such person of a notice alleging a nuisance, signed by not less than three householders residing within hearing of the animal.
Street Betting. No person shall frequent and use any street or other public place on behalf, either of himself or of any other person, for the purpose of bookmaking or betting, or wagering, or agreeing to bet or wager, with any person, or paying, or receiving, or settling bets.
Penalty. Any person who shall offend against any of the foregoing by-laws shall be liable for every such offence to a fine not exceeding forty shillings, except in the case of the by-law relating to street betting, the fine for the breach of which shall be an amount not exceeding £5.
[. . .] Amending Order of Local Government Board re Noise of Exhaust Gases from any Motor Engine. The Local Government Board made an Order amending Article IV. of the Motor Cars (Use and Construction) Order, 1904, as amended by the Motor Cars (Use and Construction) Amendment Order, 1909. The effect of the Order, which came into operation on the 31st March is to prohibit the use of any cut-out or other device which will allow the exhaust gases from any motor engine to escape into the atmosphere without passing through a silencer or other contrivance for reducing the noise which would otherwise be caused by the escape of such gases.
Motor Traffic (Street Noises) Bill.
A Bill to amend the law in respect of Warning Instruments on Motor Vehicles. The object of this Bill is to give powers to make regulations prohibiting the use in special areas or during specified hours of certain warning instruments on motor vehicles. The regulations will be made under section six of the Locomotives on Highways Act, 1890, under which there is power to confine the application of any regulations to a particular area.
To the tired worker solitude in pastoral scenes on the moor or mountain side or by the sea brings the peace and repose that comes from quietude. This is an age of noise; we have grown up without noticing its gradual] increase. In industrial pursuits the harmful effects of excessive noise on the hearing and the part it plays in producing fatigue are well known: in so far as they are unavoidable, they represent one of the costs of industrial civilisation. Are the noises of the city highway, in any serious measure, harmful to health? Many street noises are unrhythmic, discordant, varied in quality, pitch and, intensity and, above all, unpredictable. The sudden unexpected screech of the hooter, the rattling of the heavy omnibus, of the laden lorry, the unexpected explosion of the exhaust of the motor vehicle overstimulate and call up unnecessarily the sense of hearing and exhaust the brain; the noisiness of London means an enormous drain of energy even from those who are not acutely conscious of the noise as a nuisance, but who, nevertheless, all the while are unconsciously putting up a resistance to it. These noises harm the passers-by whose brains are not concentrated on work; the office worker must perforce take steps to combat the insufferable nuisance. The windows must be kept closed, with all the consequent disadvantages of discomfort ensuing on inadequate ventilation. This precaution does not always suffice in the case of professional men grappling with vital and intricate problems; the disturbance of intensive concentration causes irritation and the consequence is fatigue. Thousands of people work late at night and right through the night hours, sleeping as best they can during the daytime when noises and sounds prevent the unbroken sleep which is needed to give the body perfect rest so that it can store up energy for the working hours.
For the sick and convalescent in hospitals and nursing homes, quiet is imperative at all times: for these sufferers zones of silence must be enforced. Legislation already exists to deal with certain objectionable noises; soon it will be extended to motor traffic. A responsible Conference has recommended the making of a regulation* under the Motor Car Acts to deal with extensive and avoidable noise from motor vehicles which are badly constructed, badly loaded or in faulty condition. The Conference agreed that the excessive use of horns and their nerve racking noise constituted a legitimate grievance. Other remedies worthy of consideration are the placing of white lines across the opening of side roads into main roads to obviate hooting, the limitation of weight and bulk of goods carried by road, the control of the speed and hours of work of lorries, the prohibition of the sale of motor cycles without effective silencers, the prohibition of the use of pneumatic drills at night in proximity to occupied dwelling houses. Much is to be said in favour of the total prohibition of such drills on the ground of the injury to health caused to the workmen using them. A comprehensive measure would be the inclusion of all excessive and avoidable noise, whatever its source, as a nuisance with which sanitary authorities were empowered to deal under new Public Health legislation.
*Regulations have now been made and come into force on Aug. 1st, 1929.
The noise nuisance in cities is by no means a new evil. “Staple Inn,” wrote Dickens, “is one of those nooks the turning into which from the dashing street imparts to the relieved pedestrian the sensation of having put cotton wool in his ears and velvet soles on his boots.” To-day the volume of traffic down the main thoroughfares of London is vastly increased; in 1930 there are, fortunately or unfortunately, conditions new to Charles Dickens, which add to the complexity of life and incidentally increase its noisiness. Harley Street, a relatively quiet place, at any rate up to the present, is objecting to unnecessary noise: it prevents them getting on with their work. Last year and now the possibility of legislative action to mitigate the nuisance caused by noise has been much discussed, and is being discussed, in administrative circles and in technical journals, engineering and medical—the “Lancet” has dealt with it: the importance of excessive noise and general interest taken, in the possibility of it being reduced are also reflected in the morning and evening newspapers.
Additional evidence of the seriousness of the nuisance, if any were wanted, is the amount of attention that has been devoted to the matter not only here but also in Germany, Canada, and the United. States of America. In New York City medical research has brought out fresh evidence on the deleterious effects of noise. The Medical Noise Abatement Sub-Committee, appointed by the Health Commissioner (Dr. Shirley W. Wynne), has found definite proof that noise causes considerable disturbance to t he mechanism of the human body as evidenced by an increased pulse rate, increased blood pressure, and irregularities in the rhythm of the heart; these produce increase of pressure in the brain. This is by no means all the story: among other effects is interference with the metabolism of the body, the building up of the body from the intake of food is hindered. These scientific findings have influenced the minds of technical men, the demand of the people that there shall be less noise has turned the mind of engineers and workers towards the production of less noisy machinery and vehicles; they are learning the needlessness of noise and, it may be, the costliness of noise. Administrative action has followed: inter alia, the nuisance arising from radio loud-speakers is being brought under control by local legislation. Henceforth, in New York City, no sound-producing apparatus will be allowed to disturb the quiet or repose of persons in its vicinity, and the use of loud-speakers or other amplifying devices is forbidden in any public street or place without a permit from the police commissioner, or in any case within 250 feet of a school, court-house, church, or hospital during the hours when these places are in use. In these islands some local authorities in England and Wales have extensive powers designed to prevent nuisance from noise.
At Edinburgh valuable progress has been made by the provisions of Section 34 of the Edinburgh Corporation Order Confirmation Act, 1930. The section is as follows:— 34 (1) A noise shall be liable to be dealt with summarily in the manner provided in Part II of the Public Health (Scotland) Act, in the same way and to the same effect as in cases under Sub-Section (6) of Section 16 of that Act, and the Corporation shall have all the powers and duties with reference to a noise nuisance which a local authority has with reference to a nuisance under the said Act. (2) For the purpose of this section a noise nuisance shall be deemed to exist where any person makes or continues, or causes to be made or continued, any excessive or unreasonable or unnecessary noise, and where such noise: (a) is injurious or dangerous to health, and (b) is capable of being prevented or mitigated, having due regard to all the circumstances of the case: Provided that if the noise is occasioned in the course of any trade, business, or occupation, it shall be a good defence that the best practical means of preventing or mitigating it having regard to the cost have been adopted. (3) Nothing contained in this section shall apply to a railway company or their servants exercising statutory powers. The powers available in Holborn are not very extensive. In Holborn the by-laws made by the Council for the suppression of street cries are in force, and on 1st August, 1929, the more general legislation—Motor Cars (Excessive Noise) Regulations, 1929—came into operation. These regulations, however, cannot be regarded as dealing adequately with the problem, nor are they as comprehensive as the Edinburgh legislation.
The Holborn Council, therefore, adopted a resolution asking the London County Council to consider the promotion of legislation for London on lines similar to those adopted in Edinburgh. During the preparation of this report a communication has been received from the Clerk to the London County Council to the effect that the County Council has decided to take no action to obtain by legislation further powers to deal with the noise nuisance. It is interesting to observe that in the report of the Local Government Committee of the London County Council it is admitted that there are noises not fully dealt with by the Motor Cars (Excessive Noise) Regulations or by-laws made by the London County Council or the Borough Councils, such for example as mechanical road-breaking or road-making appliances (e.g., pneumatic drills), noise caused by motor horns especially when traffic is held up and noise caused by wireless loud-speakers. One newspaper comment on this decision was “Peace for the Deaf.” The fact remains that a large section of the Public complain of excessive noise; Holborn residents and workers are bringing their complaints to the Medical Officer of Health. If further testimony were necessary of the seriousness of the evil, it is found in the ready response made by the persons responsible for the nuisance.
The progressive attitude of the Holborn Borough Council is exemplified by their proposal to make a new by-law dealing with nuisance caused by loud-speakers and gramophones. Complaint is frequently made of the annoyance caused by the playing of loud-speakers in shops for the sale of wireless instruments and accessories. It is the practice, in many instances, to place a loud-speaker in or about the entrance to the shop in order to attract the attention of the passers-by without regard to the disturbing effect the frequent playing has on other businesses or offices in the immediate vicinity. The Police Authorities have been asked to assist in mitigating the nuisance, but they are unable to render more than little assistance in this direction as the instruments are on private property. The Holborn Town Clerk is taking the necessary steps to enable The Council to make the following by-law:—
“No person shall in any street or public place, or in any shop, business premises, or place which adjoins any street or public place, and to which the public are admitted, operate or cause to suffer to be operated, any wireless loud-speaker or gramophone in such a manner as to cause annoyance to, or disturbance of, occupants or inmates of any premises or passengers. Any person offending against the foregoing by-law shall be liable upon conviction to a penalty not exceeding forty shillings.”
APPENDIX J. For the consideration of the Health Committee (14/10/30).
L.M.S. RAILWAY SIDING—HARLEY ROAD. COMPLAINT OF NOISE AND DUST FROM MECHANICAL TIPPING APPARATUS.
MEMORANDUM BY THE MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH.
(1) The site of operations and the complainants have been visited frequently since the 10th September, 1930, by the District Sanitary Inspector, on several occasions by the Chief Sanitary Inspector, while I myself have also visited.
(2) The mechanical tipping apparatus in question is in the Urban District of Acton and approximately 150 yards south of the nearest property in Harley Road.
(3) The complainants are residents in Harley Road and neighbourhood.
(4) The apparatus is used for filling the tenders of railway locomotives with coal. The process is as follows :— (a) A loaded coal waggon is put under a waterspray and the coal is sprayed until the water runs out of the floor of the waggon. (b) The waggon is pushed on to the weighbridge and weighed. (c) A lifting gear raises the waggon and part of the weighbridge to a height of about 40 feet. (d) At the top the waggon is tilted, the contents falling into a hopper. (e) The waggon is lowered. (f) The tenders of the engines are fed from the hopper.
(5) The noise complained of arises from the tilting of the waggon and the coal falling into the hopper.
(6) The dust complained of also arises from the same cause.
(7) There is no doubt that noise is associated with the operation as described. This noise is mainly caused by the coal being tilted from the waggon into the hopper. Comparatively little noise arises from the filling of the tenders from the hopper and as this latter operation takes place at a height of only about 10-12 feet, dust is not likely to reach the adjoining property in Harley Road as a building about 20 feet high intervenes.
(8) Neither the District Sanitary Inspector, the Chief Sanitary Inspector nor myself have been able to verify the complaint that dust blows from the apparatus towards the Harley Road area. No high winds, however, have been blowing from that direction on the days on which visits have been made, and in addition some of the days have been wet.
(9) Assuming, however, that the complaints both as to noise and as to dust are capable of legal proof, the question arises as to what powers the Council possess for dealing with two such nuisances.
(10) As to noise. The only power possessed by the Council is that given by Section 56 of the Middlesex County Council Act of 1930. To prove a noise under this Section, it is necessary to prove all of the following propositions :— (a) that the noise is either excessive or unreasonable or unnecessary ; (b) that the noise is injurious or dangerous to health, and (c) that the noise is capable of being prevented or mitigated, having due regard to all the circumstances of the case.
(11) It is a good defence that the best practicable means of preventing or mitigating the noise having regard to the cost, have been adopted. (N.B.—the provisions of Section 56 of the Middlesex County Council Act, 1930, do not apply to the carrying on of an undertaking authorised by an Act of Parliament or by an order confirmed by or having the force of an Act of Parliament).
NOISE. I regret to report no progress in dealing with preventable noise, now generally recognised as conducive to ill health. Complaints are frequently made by residents of loud and persistent noises at all hours of the day and sometimes at night, with consequent loss of sleep and injury to nerves. In the absence of definite legislation extending the public health expression “nuisance” to cover such evils it is difficult to take any useful action.
NOISE. I regret to report no progress in dealing with preventable noise, now generally recognised as conducive to ill health. During the year, complaint was made on two occasions by the residents in a street in the Borough of excessive noise from a factory, particularly at night. Representations made led to some improvement. It is obvious that there is need for further legislation extending the public health expression “nuisance” to cover loud and persistent noises in proximity to dwelling houses.
Noise Nuisances.—Section 56 of the Middlesex County Council Act, 1930, provides that a noise nuisance shall be liable to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions relating to nuisances of the Public Health Act, 1875, with the proviso that if the noise is occasioned in the course of any trade, business or occupation it shall be a good defence that the best practicable means of preventing or mitigating it, having regard to the cost, have been adopted. During the year ten complaints of noise nuisance were received. Investigations were made and in eight instances the complaints were found to be justified. Appropriate action was taken and the noises were reduced to a reasonable amount having regard to the trade or business involved. No action was taken regarding the other two cases as investigation failed to substantiate the complaint of nuisance.
NOISE NUISANCES. During the year our attention has been called to nuisances and discomfort arising from the scream of circular saws, the grind of a cyclone used in a sawmill, electric hum from machinery and similar noises. Whilst your officers have been able to secure reduction in the noises of which complaint has been made, the provisions of the Barking Corporation Act are intended to deal only with avoidable noise and do not give the Council power to prohibit the use of the offending plant. The defence available to the factory owners under the above Act may not be a good defence at common law, and therefore in some cases the injured party would have a remedy in the civil courts.
NOISE. I welcome the intention of the London County Council to promote legislation to deal in some small measure with the serious nuisance of noise. The close proximity of much of the housing accommodation in the Borough to factories and other noise producing agencies makes it urgently necessary that there should be some public control of a nuisance liable to cause injury to health.
Nuisances from noise may now be dealt with by the local authority under the Nuisance Sections of the Public Health (London) Act, 1936, a provision to this effect having been included in the London County Council (General Powers) Act, of 1937. Under this provision, a noise nuisance is deemed to exist where any person makes or continues or causes to be made, etc., any excessive or unreasonable or unnecessary noise, which is injurious or dangerous to health. Exemption is, however, provided in the case of noise occasioned by the carrying out of works under any Act of the County Council or Sanitary Authorities or by any public undertaking. In the case of proceedings taken in respect of noise from any trade, business or occupation, it is a good defence for the person summoned to show that he has taken the best practicable means for preventing or mitigating the nuisance having regard to cost and other relevant circumstances. Seventeen complaints were received during the year and these were adequately dealt with by informal action. These related to noise of machinery in business premises adjoining dwellings, building operations carried out at night, the use of electric drills in streets or in demolition of buildings, wireless sets, dogs, &c. One complaint was of noise caused by persons frequenting a club in the early hours of the morning. Admirable as these provisions are, they bring but little comfort to those who reside near busy streets where late motor traffic frequently interrupts the hours of sleep.
The following byelaw in regard to street cries and noises was made by the Borough Council in 1907 and only applies to Sundays: —
Under section 66 it is provided that a noise nuisance shall be a nuisance which may bo dealt with summarily under the Public Health (London) Act, 1936. A noise nuisance is deemed to exist where any person makes or continues or causes to be made or continued any excessive or unreasonable or unnecessary noise which is injurious or dangerous to health. The section does not apply to a noise occasioned by the exercise of the functions under any Act of the county council or the sanitary authorities or any statutory undertakers; or affect the power of the county council or any borough council to make byelaws for good rule and government and suppression of nuisances under section 38 of the London County Council (General Powers) Act, 1934. It is further provided by section 66 of the new statute that no complaint to a petty sessional court under paragraph 20 of the fifth schedule to the Act of 1936 in respect of a noise nuisance shall be of any effect unless it is made by not less than three persons, being either householders or occupiers of premises within hearing of the noise nuisance which is the subject of the complaint. In any proceedings occasioned in the course of any trade, business or occupation it will be a good defence for the person charged to show that he has used the best practicable means of preventing or mitigating the nuisance having regard to the cost and to other relevant circumstances. [Extract from Report of Town Clerk.]
In connection with this matter the following byelaw recently made by the Borough Council as to nuisances caused by wireless loudspeakers, gramophones, etc., came into operation on the 1st August, 1937.
“No person shall (a) in any street or public place or in or in connection with any shop, business premises or other place which adjoins any street or public place and to which the public are admitted, or (6) upon any other premises by operating or causing or suffering to be operated any wireless loudspeaker, gramophone, amplifier or similar instrument make or cause or suffer to be made any noise which shall be so loud and so continuous or repeated as to cause a nuisance to occupants or inmates of any premises in the neighbourhood.
Provided that no proceedings shall be taken against any person for any offence against this byelaw in respect of premises referred to in paragraph (b) thereof, unless the nuisance be continued after the expiration of a fortnight from the date of the service on such person of a notice alleging a nuisance, signed by not less than three householders residing within the hearing of the instrument as aforesaid.
Any person offending against this byelaw shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five pounds.”
Noise (London County Council (General Powers) Act, 1937.
By Section 66 of this Act a noise nuisance shall be a nuisance which may be dealt with summarily under the Public Health (London) Act, 1936. It should be noted that no complaint to a court shall be effective unless it is made by not less than three persons, either householders or occupiers of premises within hearing of the noise nuisance which is the subject of the complaint. Further, in any proceedings, it is a good defence to show that the best practical means have been used to prevent or mitigate the nuisance, due regard being paid to the cost and other relevant circumstances. Six complaints of noise were received last year, but no action under the Act was taken.
Section 56 of the Middlesex County Council Act, 1930, provides that a noise nuisance shall be liable to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions relating to nuisances in the Public Health Act, 1875, with the proviso that if the noise is occasioned in the course of any trade, business, or occupation it shall be a good defence to say that the best practical means of preventing or mitigating it having regard to the cost have been adopted. During the year three cases of noise nuisance have been dealt with and action taken in all three.
There has been a large increase in the number of complaints received regarding noise. During 1938 no less than 518 visits were made. The majority of these complaints, naturally, are made by residents whose houses adjoin industrial zones. Whilst there must be some boundaries on which residential zones meet industrial zones, the difficulties are obvious where dwelling houses are in close proximity to factories. For example there are instances of factories on one side of a road, with residential dwellings immediately opposite. In other cases dwelling houses back on to factories, the gardens of the houses forming the only intervening space.
The industries which are responsible for complaint of noise in the Borough are not those usually classed as heavy industries. For example, noise was caused by the running of pumping machinery, while very considerable amelioration was obtained by enclosing that part of the factory where such machinery was installed by screens made of sound-absorbing material, and by the provision of double windows.
In other instances noise from running machinery has been reduced by the erection of wooden fences and by the occupiers of the factories keeping particular windows and doors of the factory closed during the hours of work.
In another case amelioration of the existing conditions has been achieved by the provision of efficient silencers on the air intake pipes attached to air compressor plant. Another noise nuisance has been overcome by the provision of new buildings, in which the engines are now running in special chambers partially partitioned by glass, the exhaust gases going into a specially constructed tunnel, lined with sound-absorbing material. The new arrangements have reduced the considerable noise to one now barely audible in the near vicinity.
These are typical examples of achievement possible with the assistance of the occupiers of the factories. The results have been obtained without the service of statutory notices or recourse to legal proceedings.
Section 106—Middlesex County Council (General Powers) Act, 1938, is now relevant to the subject of noise. The section is as follows:—
(1) A noise nuisance shall be liable to be dealt with as a statutory nuisance under the Act of 1936. Provided that no complaint shall be made to a justice under section 99 of the said Act unless it is signed by not less than three householders or occupiers of premises within hearing of the noise nuisance complained of.
(2) For the purpose of this section a noise nuisance shall be deemed to exist where any person makes or continues or causes to be made or continued any excessive or unreasonable or unnecessary noise and where such noise
(a) is injurious or dangerous to health; and
(b) is capable of being prevented or mitigated having due regard to all the circumstances of the case.
Provided that if the noise is occasioned in the course of any trade, business or occupation it shall be a good defence that the best practicable means within the meaning of the said Act of preventing or mitigating it have been adopted.
(3) Nothing contained in this section shall apply to a railway company the Transport Board or any statutory undertakers for the supply of water gas or electricity or their respective servants exercising statutory powers or to any mechanically propelled vessel on the Grand Union Canal.
(4) Nothing in this section shall affect the powers of the Council or the Council of a Borough to make byelaws under Section 249 of the Act of 1933.
(5) Section 56 (Noise nuisance) of the Act of 1930 is hereby repealed.
While factory owners, on their attention being drawn to the nuisance from their factories, have always been found to be willing to co-operate in an endeavour to secure reduction or elimination of the noise, the solution is not always easy, and considerable expenditure is often involved. The circumstances generally call for much technical knowledge of the inspectors, and tact and understanding are necessary throughout in dealing with this question.
It may be added that in making these inspections and observations regarding complaints of noise, no noise-measuring instruments have been used, the amount of noise being gauged by ear alone.
Nuisance from Noise.
Section 106 of the Middlesex County Council Act, 1938, provides that a noise nuisance shall be liable to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions relating to nuisances of the Public Health Act, 1936, with the proviso that if the noise is occasioned in the course of any trade, business or occupation it shall be a good defence that the best practicable means of preventing or mitigating it, having regard to the cost, have been adopted. Ten complaints of nuisances from noise were received during the year. Investigations were made and where possible appropriate action was taken and the noise abated or reduced to a minimum.
Noise Nuisances which are Injurious to Health.
A noise nuisance as defined under this Act may be dealt with summarily under the Public Health (London) Act, 1936. The noise must be excessive or unreasonable or unnecessary, be injurious or dangerous to health, and it shall be a good defence for the person charged in relation to any trade business or occupation that he has used the best practical means of preventing or mitigating the nuisance having regard to the cost and other relevant circumstances. Complaint to be of any effect must be made by not less than three persons being either householders or occupiers of premises within hearing of the noise nuisance which is the subject of the complaint. During the year 20 complaints were investigated, and numerous inspections were made in respect of the use of a site in Seven Sisters Road as a fair ground, and inspections were still continuing at the end of the year. Special investigations were made with regard to a number of complaints received of alleged excessive noise in factories.
During the year 30 complaints of noise were received, eleven relating to nuisance at night (rowdy disturbances, door slamming, etc.), four to motor vehicles, four to operation of machinery in industrial premises, three to roller skating on the public way, three to itinerant newsvendors, two to dogs, two to milk delivery, and one to street hawking.
Street Musicians and Singers.
On the 28th July, 1938, the Council made the following bye-law in pursuance of section 38 of the London County Council (General Powers) Act, 1938:—
“(1) No person shall sound or play upon any musical or noisy instrument or sing in any street or public place within 100 yards of any dwelling-house, office, or business or professional premises to the annoyance or disturbance of any inmate or occupant thereof, after being requested to desist by any constable, or by any inmate or occupant so annoyed or disturbed, or by any person acting on his behalf.
Provided that this byelaw shall not apply to—
(a) any person taking part in a properly conducted religious service, except where the request to desist is made on the ground of the serious illness of any inmate of the house; or
(b) any person (i) whilst playing under the order of his commanding officer, in any band belonging to any branch of His Majesty’s Naval, Army, Air Reserve or Territorial Forces; or (ii) whilst playing in any band performing with the sanction of and in a place appointed by the London County Council or the St. Marylebone Borough Council.
(2) Any person offending against the foregoing byelaw shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £5.”
The bye-law was duly confirmed by the Home Secretary and came into operation on the 1st November, 1938. Eight complaints were received and dealt with informally.
Wireless Loudspeakers, etc.
During the year, seven complaints were received relating to nuisance from wireless loudspeakers, gramophones and similar instruments. In six cases, abatement of the nuisance was secured without the service of formal notice. In the remaining instance, the issue of a notice was necessary to obtain a remedy.
In securing attention to the several provisions relating to noise nuisances, the temporary streets nuisance inspector rendered valuable assistance, and also cooperated with the police in regard to a number of the complaints received.