London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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City of Westminster 1937

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Westminster, City of]

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During "Rat Week," 14,660 baits were laid in the sewers and 1,783
at the Council's depots, etc. The number of dead rats discovered was 114.
The laying of baits in the sewers is carried out at regular intervals throughout
the year as a matter of routine.
Nuisance from Pigeons.—During the year, eight complaints of nuisance
from pigeons were received and investigated. The Council's contractors,
on instructions from the department, caught and destroyed some 700
pigeons in the course of the year, principally in Trafalgar Square. The
figure thus reported will give dissatisfaction to individuals of two opposing
schools of opinion. Those who suffer from pigeon nuisance will say it is
not enough ; those who admire pigeons and encourage them to congregate
will regard it as a massacre. Nevertheless, the Council, in authorizing
this measure of reducing the number of pigeons, is only carrying out its
statutory duty as laid down in Section 121 of the Public Health (London)
Act, 1936. The work is carried out by an experienced firm fully acquainted
with the varieties and habits of pigeons, their nesting and breeding.
Close co-operation is maintained with officials of the R.S.P.C.A. in regard
to the methods employed in dealing with the birds.
Noise Nuisances.—Nuisances from noise may now be dealt with by the
local authority under the Nuisance Sections of the Public Health (London)
Act, 1936, a provision to this effect having been included in the London
County Council (General Powers) Act, of 1937. Under this provision,
a noise nuisance is deemed to exist where any person makes or continues
or causes to be made, etc., any excessive or unreasonable or unnecessary
noise, which is injurious or dangerous to health.
Exemption is, however, provided in the case of noise occasioned by the
carrying out of works under any Act of the County Council or Sanitary
Authorities or by any public undertaking.
In the case of proceedings taken in respect of noise from any trade,
business or occupation, it is a good defence for the person summoned to show
that he has taken the best practicable means for preventing or mitigating
the nuisance having regard to cost and other relevant circumstances.
Seventeen complaints were received during the year and these were
adequately dealt with by informal action. These related to noise of
machinery in business premises adjoining dwellings, building operations
carried out at night, the use of electric drills in streets or in demolition
of buildings, wireless sets, dogs, &c. One complaint was of noise caused
by persons frequenting a club in the early hours of the morning.
Admirable as these provisions are, they bring but little comfort to those

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