Case study 1: Family with autistic children issued CPN for ‘slamming doors’

The father says:

‘We have four children – the older two are registered disabled, the younger two are aged 2 and 1. When we leave the house and close the door, it is almost universally done with our children in tow. Our disabled children require constant supervision on busy roads and car parks (for this reason they both have been issued with blue badges). The suggestion was made to us that we should attempt to reduce our door’s noise by using two hands to close it: one hand pulling the handle whilst using the other hand to engage the key lock. We live on a busy road, which sees an almost constant flow of cars throughout the day. To do so would place our disabled children (and their younger siblings) in mortal danger by removing our ability to supervise our children by holding their hands to prevent them endangering themselves on the road.

Our neighbour has made an exceptionally long list of complaints to any and all authorities she can. She doesn’t like that we are a busy noisy household and has been trying to bully us since we moved here two and a half years ago. This bullying has been so intense that we are selling our house to get away from her. She has failed to get anything to stick in her attempts to report us to various authorities. She has tried this with the police so much that they now have a note associated with our address that police should not attend our property in response to her reports unless there is a credible threat of imminent physical harm occurring.’

The neighbour attempted to get a statutory noise abatement order issued against the family, but this failed because the recorded volume of noise did not exceed the threshold for a noise abatement order.

Although these complaints had been dismissed by all other authorities, the council responded to the neighbour’s complaints and issued a CPW and then a CPN against the family.

The family appealed the CPN in writing to the council, stating that ‘we shut our door with the minimal amount of force required to close it with a single hand and the noise it generates cannot be further reduced’. The appeal also stated that the neighbour has a history of harassing the family with fictitious allegations.

The council said that it would be withdrawing the order, and issuing new notices, because the family did not in fact have a right to request the CPN to be withdrawn. When the family pointed out that they did have this right, the council responded:

‘When we said that the notices were incorrect and would be withdrawn, it was because we were not aware of the case which you helpfully pointed out to us which established the implied right to request that a CPN be varied of discharged, and we had incorrectly thought that that particular paragraph in the notice was therefore erroneous. The particular wording in the CPN regarding variation or discharge is in fact correct.’

On Christmas Eve, the council issued a new CPW for ‘slamming doors’, and informed the family that they would be installing recording equipment to gather evidence for issuing a CPN. When the father called the council officer’s number – within minutes of the CPW arriving through the door – he received an out of office message.

The family finally solved the issue by moving house.