Abatement Notice and potential consequences of a breach
We had a party in our garden and have been served with an abatement notice which prevents the use of amplified sound at our house at any time such that it is audible from a neighbouring property. We thought we were being fairly reasonable as it was a special occasion, we notified all the neighbours in writing well in advance (about 60 letters) and included our phone numbers to contact on the evening. We have lived in the area a long time, have a good relationship with most and a number of our neighbours were guests at the party. Over the course of the evening we progressively turned the volume down, although obviously not enough because because someone complained directly to the council. When noise control appeared they asked us to move the party inside and we cooperated by immediately ending the party.
The council said they had no discretion about whether to issue an abatement notice when a nuisance had been identified, even though we had fully cooperated, although I have since learned that statutory amendments were made to allow for discretion. Rather than discuss why they felt unable to exercise their discretion their solicitor twice informally gave me the unusual advice that I should not let it worry me since the notice is no big deal and even if I had a party every year a future breach would simply attract a small fine.
Whilst I don't want to inconvenience anyone unduly I also don't want to overcompensate because I am living in fear of a criminal record if I happened to overstep the mark! For instance, I'd like to be able to hold my 40th in the garden in two years time. What kind of fine could I realistically expect to get if I were found to be in breach in, say, one or two year's time (I appreciate that the max is £5,000 - but in practice?)? At what point can bailiffs get called in to remove my stereo? Is there much chance of a criminal record?