SoundScapeIssue 02 48It is rare that one is given the opportunity to change entrenched habits - being a part of Silent ApproachT really cemented for me the belief that with time, effort and creativity, we can solve many of our environmental challengesFiona Churchill, 2011Sainsbury's. I was the appointed lead officer and was excited at the prospect of being able to make real local and environmental changes. I knew we had regular complaints from residents living as close as nine metres from the store and realised that the investment on my behalf would mean independently monitoring the night time deliveries in my own time. I am proud to report that there were no complaints during the trial period (nor have there been any since) and that with the proper supervision and training we managed to secure night time deliveries for that store going forward. Sainsbury's are delighted with it and have measured the environmental and cost benefits. I also know that there is now less traffic and congestion in that area at busier times of day and residents are benefitting from quieter days and better stocked shelves.It is rare that one is given an opportunity to change entrenched habits and be proactive. Being a part of Silent ApproachT really cemented for me the belief that with time, effort and creativity, we can solve many of our environmental challenges. I still get calls today about the scheme from other Local Authorities, and have been gratified to see how successful other wards have been with it.What is your first memory of working in noise abatement?I remember being called to a large housing estate to disable the alarm on a brand new Porsche. Having served notice on the owner I arranged for a contractor to tow the car away and there must have been 70 people on their balconies cheering and clapping. That was a powerful thing for me to feel and a great way of seeing how many appreciated our work. What do you do on your days off?By sharp contrast, my days off are normally pretty noisy! Most of my time is spent renovating my Minis, powering up the drill and angle grinder in the garage workshop.
SoundScapeIssue 02 49Max Dixon proclaims the Mini wayThe humble Mini may not have been the quietest car of its day but Sir Alec Issigonis' revolutionary concept of 'small on the outside but big on the inside' meant that it was relatively light in weight and fleet of foot, as shown so vividly in The Italian Job.Engines have since become quieter, but cars themselves have generally become heavier, and the added weight has meant tyres have grown. The wider a given type of tyre, the more noise it produces. Indeed, the wider the tyre, the louder the regulations allow it to be. Above first gear in a modern car, tyre noise often dominates over mechanical noise. If we really want less traffic noise, we need not just to choose the quietest available tyres available, but rediscover to the Mini way and move towards lighter cars which tread more gently on the planet - and our eardrums. Check out www.bettertyres.org.ukWhat do the neighbours think of it all?Actually, they pop round and give me a hand! In fact, that would be my top tip: if you know you are going to make some noise, invite the neighbours over. Knowing the source of the noise and having been warned about it somehow makes it manageable. How do you prevent noise from invading your council?At Wandsworth we aim to be proactive and encourage people to register their house alarms. We give out information leaflets to estate agents for new residents and have stalls at local festivals and during Noise Action Week. It is important for everyone to understand that we are not here to stop people having fun. We encourage residents to let us know if they are going to be making some noise, that way we can more easily deal with complaints and contact them directly if they are causing a disturbance. These steps help us to deal more efficiently with cases, especially as in the summer months we can get 60-70 calls in a night.Do you have a good relationship with local police?Being in London, the police are very busy but we have what we call a 'naughty boys meeting' every month with community safety, social services and housing associations. We do the same with 'persistent offender' licensed premises. That way if a site has a history with the police, there is shared information and we can count on their support. Are people more willing to complain than before?People think they know more about noise but often their information is not accurate. They will copy their councillors on emails which often complicates matters more than speeds things up when misinformation needs to be corrected. We work hard on behalf of our complainants and simply ask that they give us the opportunity to prove it. Local hero? We think so.