Bideford noise victim calls in PM
A NORTH Devon man has written to the Prime Minister to ask for a change in the laws on nuisance neighbours. Phillip Askie, 42, claims he suffered a breakdown after enduring eight-and-a-half years living with blaring televisions and stereos, slamming doors
A NORTH Devon man has written to the Prime Minister to ask for a change in the laws on nuisance neighbours.
Phillip Askie, 42, claims he suffered a breakdown after enduring eight-and-a-half years living with blaring televisions and stereos, slamming doors and abusive behaviour from tenants living in a block of flats in Bideford.
Mr Askie, who now lives in supported living accommodation in Barnstaple, said he will live with mental health problems for the rest of his life due to the stress brought on by his nightmare ordeal.
He hopes that his letter to David Cameron will help spark a change in the law to give police powers to deal with problems more swiftly.
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"The loud music started in 1998 and was a total nightmare to live with," said Phillip.
"In the end it caused so much emotional upset that I'd be reduced to tears; you could hear the noise half way down the street at three in the morning and the television was always on full blast - it was so loud that I couldn't even hear my own doorbell.
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"People ask me why I stayed there for so long but it was my home," he added. "Before the problems started, I'd enjoyed living there for four years; the rent was cheap and the flat was brilliant and I couldn't afford anywhere else as good."
The constant noise and anti-social behaviour began to have an impact on Phillip's mental heath and despite finally moving away in 2005, he says the effects caused him to suffer a breakdown in 2006.
Under current legislation, noise nuisances are dealt with by environmental protect teams at local district councils but Phillip believes that police should be given the power to confiscate loud televisions and stereos.
"There's not a lot out there to help people with nuisance neighbours," he said. "The police can knock on someone's door and speak with people but they can't really do anything.
"In my experience the council has no teeth and people can get away with it.
"These people wanted their parties, wanted their drugs and wanted to harass and knew that I couldn't fight them. I'm really proud that I didn't break the law or lose control and take matters into my own hands and let them win.
"Luckily I had great support from my mum and dad and the Samaritans were great - if it were not for them, things would have been a lot worse.
"It could happen to anyone on any street at any time and I hope that by telling me story, I can help make a difference to the lives of the many people who have to live with similar antisocial behaviour on a daily basis. For me, getting this off my chest is an important part of the healing process."
Ray Webster, Head of Environmental Health, Planning, and Public Protection at Torridge District Council said that last year, the council received about 300 requests to investigate noise nuisances in the Torridge district, many of which involved neighbour noise.
"We take complaints about noise very seriously and recognise that neighbour noise can cause a great deal of distress," he said.
"Though we are unable to comment on individual cases, the council does everything possible to resolve noise complaints fairly and amicably, but will use legal powers if necessary."
For help and information about noise complaints, contact the council's Environmental Protection Team on (01237) 428810 or email environmental.protection@torridge .gov.uk