MEREWETHER taxi driver Gary Ihnen is not sure what disturbs him the most – his impossibly noisy neighbours or the problems he is having getting anything done about them.
Mr Ihnen, who has a thick file of letters to back his claims, says the system is failing ‘‘ordinary people’’ who find their suburban lives blighted by inconsiderate neighbours.
‘‘The ones next to us are uni students,’’ Mr Ihnen said.
‘‘Parties, singing, cars coming and going all hours of the night, a stereo so loud we even moved our bed to the other side of the house to try to get some peace.
‘‘It got to the point where we had to start ringing the police but most nights they are busy with the violence in town, so noisy neighbours are not their priority.
‘‘They suggest the council and the council sympathises but says it’s up to you to go to court to try to get a noise abatement order. But that’s expensive, with or without a lawyer.
‘‘It took from August last year until March for the rental agent to do something, and then the landlord steps in and stops them evicting the tenants and we’re back to where we started.’’
As a taxi owner of 14 years standing, Mr Ihnen is convinced Newcastle’s controversial 3am curfew is driving drunken behaviour back out into the suburbs.
‘‘You get them full as a boot in the cabs, saying: ‘They said I was drunk. Do I look drunk to you?’,’’ Mr Ihnen said.
‘‘You can’t say anything because next thing it’s an argument. Or they’ll go to a local club where it’s cheaper than town and then go home with a carton.
‘‘They’ll start drinking at home then go out at 11 o’clock. They get turfed out again at 3am and they’re revved up and still wanting to party, so they come home and turn the stereo on and don’t stop until the sun comes up.’’
Alcohol control advocate Tony Brown does not accept the curfew is responsible for any surge in suburban anti-social behaviour.
He blames cheap takeaway alcohol from bottle shops, and says a generation of young Australians is engaged in an ‘‘epidemic of binge-drinking’’.