NCO spells end for party

Baby-Edgar victimised

Over half of the 382 noise complaints made to the Dunedin City Council last month were from Dunedin North, with 94 per cent of the complaints relating to noise from stereos. This is the highest number of complaints in a single month since February 2010 and coincides with the influx of students back to the city for the University year.

Council environmental health team leader Ros MacGill said, typically, there is an increased number of noise complaints in February and March. She said that even if tenants kept their windows and doors closed, “the housing stock in North Dunedin is pretty old so the sound can easily escape.”

MacGill explains that following a complaint, a Noise Control Officer (NCO) will “subjectively assess the noise” from the complainant’s boundary and decide if it is excessive or not. If it is excessive the NCO will issue an Excessive Noise Direction (END) to someone that lives at the address, instruct them to reduce the noise to a reasonable level and then advise them that non-compliance or reoffending within 72 hours of the notice being issued will mean their equipment will be seized. MacGill says, “No matter what time of day it is, if the noise is considered excessive then they must comply with the NCO’s directions to reduce it.”

Critic spoke to OUSA Vice-President Ryan Edgar in regard to issues of noise control. Edgar said, “One of the first things that caused me to run for VP was noise control, who were, in my opinion, overstepping their boundaries.” Edgar himself has been victim to a complaint, with his flat receiving a notice last weekend and his speakers, worth $300, being seized on a separate occasion. He says “if you can’t have a respectable flat party at 9pm on a Saturday, then when can you?”

Critic spoke to several other local students who have had END notices. Jacob Scully, an ex-Hyde Street resident, says his flat party was shut down in the “pretty early hours” – at around 10pm – on a Saturday night and had an iPod and DJ equipment seized.

Last Saturday, a flat on Forth Street was issued with a notice and had a laptop seized. Flat resident Jacob Arahill said, “We asked them to take the speakers instead, but they said ‘nah.’” The residents have to pay an $84 fine to retrieve the laptop, which Arahill says “is ridiculous.”

During February 2014, 134 END notices were issued and 14 pieces of equipment were seized.
This article first appeared in Issue 4, 2014.
Posted 2:59pm Sunday 16th March 2014 by Josie Cochrane.