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'Noisy' play area still causing 'annoyance'

Residents consider fresh court action over Skyllings playground

John Garvey

john.garvey@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886628

'Noisy' play area still causing 'annoyance'

RESIDENTS complaining of noise and antisocial behaviour at a Newbury playground are considering a fresh court battle.

One of them, David Burgess, recently lost his Reading Magistrates’ Court case against Newbury Town Council after a district judge ruled that the problem did not constitute a ‘statutory nuisance’ in law.

Last year, a play area in Bristol was torn down after residents won a similar court case against the city council.

In that instance, magistrates ordered the local authority to take steps to reduce noise in the area – but the council decided the cheapest option was to demolish it.

However, Mr Burgess said he and his neighbours do not want the playground at Skyllings, backing on to Walton Way, removed.

He said this week: “It’s a sensitive issue that concerns a play area.

“We have never complained about children playing – it’s the equipment that makes the nuisance of noise and ball retention.

“We’ve always stated that we don’t want to get rid of the playground; we just want the equipment changed with consideration to residents’ privacy, enjoyment of property and noise disturbance.

“There is also the constant problem of trespass due to ball recovery.”

One of the main issues was the noise created by balls being thrown against a basketball board, which one expert witness likened to gunshot.

However, during the magistrates’ court case, the district judge ruled other residents’ evidence inadmissable because they had not shown up to be cross examined.

Mr Burgess admitted that had been an unforeseen legal issue, but said that, if talks with Newbury Town Council do not progress satisfactorily, fresh legal action may be taken.

He said: “I’m currently drafting a letter to the council on behalf of residents, which will request the council to consider mitigation action to reduce the now-proven serious annoyance.”

Mr Burgess said that, while the bar in proving statutory nuisance in a criminal court was high, a civil action would be more likely to succeed, especially given that an expert witness had already testified that residents had to shut their windows and stay indoors to avoid the worst of the noise.

He concluded: “Five households have agreed to stand as witnesses if required, if future legal action is taken.

“However we plan to go back to speak with the council first before considering our options.”

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Article comments

  • Browser

    01/08/2018 - 18:06

    If the affected residents feel that the Town Council will not assist in resolving the matter, I would recommend that mediation has been attempted: the residents should now contact the Anti-Social Neighbour Officer at West Berkshire Council, and cite Newbury Town Council for their inability to control the behaviour and actions of the people on its property. The Town Council is responsible for all behaviour and actions that take place in the park, because it is the Town Council's property (just as we citizens are responsible for all behaviour and actions that take place on our properties!) The boundary fence is essentially the boundary between two neighbouring properties. If actions taken on Town Council land affect residents on land that is not Town Council property, then the Town Council is being un-neighbourly, and should be taken to task. Documenting anti-social behaviour and contacting West Berkshire Council worked for me. I hope it does for the residents of Walton Way. Good luck!

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  • Browser

    01/08/2018 - 18:06

    A sad story, all too common. Councils want to provide facilities for residents, and should do, but only if the facilities enhance the life of ALL local residents. Anything else is discriminatory. Having suffered a similar situation a few years back, I can only recommend that the affected residents document all instances of anti-social behaviour such as noise pollution, trespass, verbal abuse, or a threat to their personal safety; phone the 101 non-emergency phone line every time someone trespasses - or appears to have trespassed - in their gardens; do not return any items that are fired into their gardens, but deposit them at the local Police station, as lost property; and think of ways to alter the environment, to minimise the impact of the facilities.

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