Report of the Director of Markets and Consumer Protection.
The Committee considered a report of the Director of Markets and Consumer Protection concerning Consultation on Noisy Saturday Construction Work Activities in the City of London.
A report was produced which considered possible solutions to the issue of noisy construction work on Saturday mornings. This report addressed a variety of factors to consider, including safety concerns, residents’ needs, the needs of people with disabilities, and legal advice. Legal advice emphasised the need to comply with the requirements of the Equalities Act 2010 and to ensure that any decision did not discriminate against individuals with disabilities. In particular, it was drawn to the Committee’s attention that residents with physical disabilities may be unable to leave their homes and would be more affected by the noise than a person without a physical disability, as they could leave their home to be relieved of the noise. The report proposed limiting noisy works to the hours of 08.00 to 13.00. The Chairman advised Members that the Planning and Transportation Committee had approved the recommendations within the report with the amendment of the hours being changed to 09:00 to 14:00. The Chairman suggested the Port Health and Environmental Services Committee also support this amendment.
A Member stated that he had issues with the statistics provided within the report, an issue which he had previously raised at Committee in 2017. He referred to the 725 responses received to the consultation on this matter, 78% of which were attributable to individuals. He questioned whether these individuals were mostly City workers who would therefore not be affected, for the most part, by proposals on noisy Saturday working. The report went on to state that 21% of all responses were from organisations. If a response was, for example, sent in from one organisation, how could this be classed as representative of the views of all its employees?
The Member went on to argue in favour of option d.ii. – not permitting noisy construction works on Saturdays near residential areas. He also questioned the reference within the report to the potential negative impacts of Saturday noisy working on certain protected groups, suggesting that the response from the City on this point was weak.
The Member explained that the original request to the Committee had been to consider the banning of noisy Saturday working near residential areas. This study had therefore been irrelevantly expanded and should therefore be rejected.
A Member further advised that there is a levy for works, which is paid by construction firms, and the profits are used to monitor behaviours of workers and the impact on the surrounding environment (ie. inappropriate calls to women, spitting, cigarette litter).
A Member expressed concern that regulation enforcement was an issue, even with the current restrictions in place on noisy works, it was difficult to ensure workers adhere to the regulations.
The Director of Port Health and Public Protection advised that enforcement of the relevant rules does take place, however acknowledged that it is not practical to have an officer at every works site to enforce the regulations. Furthermore, some works were necessarily carried out outside of the regulated hours due to the requirements of certain technology.
A Member expressed concern with the Committee’s response to the consultation report, stating that the information provided was for their guidance, and Members should not find fault with the consultation process if the result does not bring a desired outcome.
The Member went on to state that the City Corporation should not discourage business in the City with restrictions to construction works, but must continue to encourage business development in order for the City to continue to thrive.
Discussion took place on zoning with Members offering differing opinions, some Members suggested there be specific areas within the City (i.e. largely residential areas) where noisy working on Saturdays be prohibited. However, other Members spoke against creating segregated areas of the City with different regulations. A Member explained that there were zoning policies and democratic arrangements regarding planning and licensing and these should be applied to the City as a whole.
A Member queried whether it was mandatory for vehicles to use beeps when reversing or in movement as this noise was affecting residents at early hours. The Director of Port Health and Public Protection advised they would consult legislation and provide an update to Members.
A Member echoed a previous statement, advising that the City must be able to develop, and although there are areas which are residential, the City must also encourage growth and development, and should facilitate better consultation between residents and developers. There should be more dialogue and less legislation.
At this point, a Member requested to adjourn further discussion of this topic to either a later meeting or a special meeting, due to the amount of time which had been spent discussing the item and the need to discuss other items on the agenda. A vote was taken to adjourn further discussion:
FOR – 3 votes
AGAINST – 15 votes
The majority objected to this proposal and the debate carried on.
Marianne Fredericks spoke as a Member for the Ward of Tower, urging the Committee to consider the needs of residents, workers and businesses, including restaurants and hotels; and asked Members to find the most pragmatic solution that would work for people within the City. A suggestion was made to alert residents to when noisy works would be taking place which would allow them to plan accordingly.
The Chairman asked Members to vote on the recommendations contained within the report before them with the amendment to consider restricting noisy works hours to 09:00 to 14:00
FOR – 9 votes
AGAINST – 5 votes.
RESOLVED – That the Committee:
a) note the assessment and evidence set out in Appendices 3-6 and 8;
b) consider the report on the outcome of public consultation set out in Appendix 2; and
c) Having considered 1 and 2 above and read the legal comments of the City Solicitor set out in Appendix 9 and having, both when considering 1 and 2 above and at all stages throughout, complied with the City’s duties set out in this report, including reading and considering the Equality Impact Assessment at Appendix 7 and having due regard to the needs set out in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, decide that standard noisy construction hours arrangements for Saturday mornings in the City of London are changed City wide to 0900 to 1400.