Having moved into a brand new property a year ago, we have been plagued by a noise nuisance from the city council owned car park across the road from us (I hate to be the person that moves to a place and then complains about it, but this isn't normal activity like an airport, pub, club etc).

From 8pm until the early hours of the morning most days of the week (worse at weekends) youths with cars and motorbikes have been congregating underneath the flyover in the car park, revving their engines, shouting, playing loud music, racing each other around the car park and (more recently) having horn blowing contests. This can literally be until they choose to disperse at some point after midnight, so you can imagine how hard it is to sleep with this going on.

The exit to the car park is pretty much outside our property, and they use the road our property is on as a race way - they exit the car park, do a high speed circuit of the block and return to the car park.

6 months ago I raised this issue with the city council through their noise nuisance complaints website, but I received a reply that the council only deals with noise nuisance issues caused by council or private tenants or property owners - any noise nuisance issues on council land is not their responsibility, and instead directed me to the local wardens or the police.

The local wardens only patrol up to 8pm, so they have already said they cannot do anything.

I have thus far lodged more than 40 complaints with the police non-emergency number, and not once has anyone been sent out, even when the report has been after midnight.

I have ample video and audio evidence of the nuisance (one of the first things suggested online is to keep a diary of the nuisance, so I set up a Raspberry Pi to record raw audio and the decibel level a few months back), and my neighbours have similar issues and are backing us.

Legal action is the next recourse, and the only people I can take action against are the council as its their property - but they are saying its not their problem...

So my question is thus - can the city council actually absolve themselves of legal responsibility for actions on their property? Private property owners cannot do this, they are responsible for the noise on their property, so why can the council?

  • 1
    Is there a local paper? An article or editorial on the problem might work wonders.
    – mkennedy
    Jun 8, 2016 at 18:26

2 Answers 2


Actually, neither the council nor a private owner are responsible for illegal actions by unauthorised people on their property. This is obvious: if an intruder enters your property and, while there, shoots someone you cannot be held responsible.

However ...

Since you have made them aware that there are intruders on their property acting illegally and causing a nuisance to the neighbours and they have done nothing they are quite likely negligent, even recklessly negligent.

Rather than sue them, consult a lawyer and get them to write a letter that if they do not take action by X date you are going to sue them.

  • 1
    Thanks for the reply - in this case the persons causing the noise cannot be considered intruders as the car park is a public one, so thus my question comes from the angle that any other property owner would be considered liable for any loud music, noise or antisocial behaviour on their property. The council would not idly stand by if I had loud parties until the early hours regularly every week in my back garden, yet they are absolving themselves of responsibility in this situation, which does not seem fair.
    – user4210
    Mar 22, 2016 at 12:49
  • 1
    @Moo but the principle remains. Suppose the car park were privately owned, but open to the public. The owner would have a responsibility to ensure that people using the car park refrain from the behavior you describe. You should speak with a solicitor, as advised.
    – phoog
    Mar 22, 2016 at 13:45
  • Not obvious, even if it is true most of the time.
    – ohwilleke
    Jun 14, 2022 at 1:05

It's not clear from the question what level of local government the city coucil refereed to is, as all levels of local government can be awarded city status, or informally referred to as cities.

As per national government website councils have statutory duty and powers to deal with noise, it is however not clear which level of local government is responsible.

The national government website can tell you which council to complain to.

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