Child left sleepless from shouting and foul language on football pitch

East Dunbartonshire Council has been accused of inaction to resolve noise complaints by a watchdog.

East Dunbartonshire Council rapped for inaction against football pitch noise concerns iStock

A local council has been criticised for its inaction over complaints from a resident whose young child was left sleepless due to noise from a nearby football pitch.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) has ruled in favour of a resident who complained that East Dunbartonshire Council had not taken steps to resolve issues of “unreasonable” noise and swearing.

The neighbour, referred to only as C to preserve their anonymity, had reported the council-run football pitch next to their home but the the local authority failed to raise the problems with those using the grounds.

C claimed that the noise reached high levels particularly later in the evening before the pitch closed at 10pm most nights, keeping their young child awake.

They explained to the SPSO that they had provided recordings to the council to evidence this, but that the council had refused to take action to address it.

The ombudsman found that the council had, in response to C’s concerns, added clauses to their letting terms and conditions to ensure that there were clear rules prohibiting unreasonable noise levels and language by renters of the pitch.

However, it also found that the only steps the local authority had taken to address this with users was to send a general email out about unreasonable noise to everyone renting one of the council’s pitches.

Given that C had been providing clear reports and recordings of specific times and behaviours, the SPSO considered it was unreasonable for the council not to take any steps to raise the issues with the specific users responsible.

It also ruled that the council had failed to provide sufficient explanations to C of the kind of evidence that it would consider and how it would investigate concerns.

Upholding C’s complaint, the SPSO recommended that the council explain to C how to report such issues with evidence in the future.

It also said: “When receiving evidence of misuse of council facilities, the council should take appropriate action to ensure the users responsible abide by the letting terms and conditions.”

Gerry Cornes, Chief Executive of East Dunbartonshire Council, said: “Following C’s complaint and after a thorough investigation involving various teams across the Council we amended our Lettings Terms and Conditions – clearly outlining our stance on excessive noise and foul language.

“As our correspondence with the SPSO states, we believed it was important that all pitch users were alerted to this change and told that that we had received a complaint. The email we sent reminded them of their responsibilities to neighbouring residents and made it clear that such behaviour would not be tolerated and withdrawal of lets would be considered if we continued to receive complaints.

“The Council considers it vital to make facilities available to football teams and other users to improve fitness and mental wellbeing, however, users need to take heed of our policies and refrain from causing disturbance to local residents.

“We welcome any further evidence from C or others in future if any users clearly breach the acceptable use of the pitch and we will ensure any action taken in future is explained fully to the complainant.”

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