Noise complaints after the lockdown threaten Manchester’s night and day scene – but they are not alone

Manchester’s legendary Night & Cafe is appealing for support after being threatened by noise complaints – but this is just the latest in a wave of those that have emerged since the reopening after the lockdown.

The legendary music venue, which was rescued after a fierce battle against a noise complaint back in 2014 and is set to celebrate its 30th anniversary this weekend, has today gone on social media to rally support after receiving a message from the council about alleged claims, that they were “a noise nuisance”.

“Since the lockdown and as restrictions have been lifted, we have gradually returned to what we do – being a small independent live music venue,” they wrote in a petition calling for help and signatures. “Over the last few months, we’ve been really encouraged by having live music events six nights a week – back to what it was before COVID.

“During the lockdown, a new resident moved to Manchester and to a property located close to the site. When the restrictions were lifted and life returned to the surrounding Northern Quarter area, we were able to hold our first live music event. The resident visited us the day after and have since reported to MCC a number of times.We have met the resident a number of times to explain what we do and that nothing has changed operationally to how we operated pre-lock down and the 28 years prior before that.

The venue added that they begged Manchester City Council Licensing to “remove our noise reduction announcement and for the Council to address the real problem here, which is that housing with ill-considered planning and construction has been approved and built alongside a prior building. existing live music business ”.

The petition has already received nearly 15,000 signatures and support from the likes of Johnny Marr and Mogwai, as well as the network of UK grassroots music venues. Charlatan Tim Burgess, who helped save Manchester’s Gorilla and Deaf Institute through the pandemic, told NME why it was important to fight back against this complaint.

“Music venues are crucial to our night economy and to the development of artists who will then tour the world and sell millions of records – they are crucial to our cities,” Burgess said. NME. “Years and even decades after they opened, people are moving around complaining about the noise. We have to deal with this eerie situation. And it’s not just venues – record stores are facing the same problem.

“The joke is that these downtown residents are often the ones showing their friends about the culture that surrounds them. We need to support our venues with live music, not threaten them with closure.”

The Charlatans
Charlatan’s Tim Burgess. CREDIT: Getty Images.

It told the Music Venue Trust NME that this had become a bit of a trend and that there had been more than 40 noise complaints against British grassroots music venues since reopening in July.

“With the exception of one case, all complaints relate to the venue having resumed normal operation; no new hours, no change of music, no increase in volume,” MVT chief Mark Davyd told NME. “in a noisy area, and now it is not. Over half of the complaints are from new residents who have moved into a known thriving and vibrant area during lockdown and seem to have only just discovered what it means.”

He continued: “Is Manchester a music city or a retirement village? This is one of a series of absurd new complaints lodged by people who seem to think it’s OK to move close to venues during a pandemic and complain when they reopen Every noise complaint costs the venue money to defend and defeat.

“It’s time the litigation process was changed, so blatantly ridiculous complaints like this against a venue celebrating 30 years of business can be immediately rejected or the venue financially compensated for being forced to prove that the cause of” nuisance “is new resident’s decision to move next door. ”

Another place that is currently dealing with a noise complaint from a resident who moved into the area during the lockdown is the beloved Fuel Rock Club in Cardiff.

“We’re on Womanby Street, which is Cardiff’s music hub, I would say,” venue manager Angie Evans told NME. “We have two grassroots venues next to each other with The Moon and us, but we also have Bootleg above us, which plays jazz and blues, and then opposite us we have Clwb Ifor Bach, which is an iconic three-storey live music venue. .

“A lot is happening in general, but we have a complaint going on at the moment. It’s from a block of flats behind us that essentially has the sound of three venues up there. Crucially it’s from people who moved in over lockdown “When there was peace and quiet in the city. It happened as soon as we opened after lockdown – it was practically the first weekend of live music.”

She continued: “I think that kind of thing happens everywhere. It’s been quiet and people have gotten used to it or they’ve moved around during the lockdown and they did not realize how noisy it was. We are very established companies on Womanby Street, and I think that has helped our cause in a way. ”

Evans said she was “understanding” and appreciated that there was a lot of noise coming from the venues, but called for more to be done to protect venues that had been in operation for years.

‘Most people who live there have been doing it for over six years and are used to it, but I understand that they may not have been aware of the noise when they moved in, their landlord might not have told them. It is difficult, and I am aware of that, “she continued.

“We always do what we can to limit the noise. For example, we have a 12.00 license for live music, but we always end at. 23.00, primarily for the neighbors and their common sense. We always keep our doors closed and we looked at making a change in size to try to help the noise travel. “

With the help of the Music Venue Trust, Evans said they would continue to push back against the complaint with the rest of the venues in the area.

“We have a really good relationship with Cardiff Castle,” she added. ‘I think they see that music is the lifeblood of the city. They have been very supportive and have taken an attitude that is understanding on both sides, which is the right way to look at it. “

Noise complaints after the lockdown threaten Manchester’s night and day scene – but they are not alone
Johnny Marr, formerly of The Smiths, performs with his son Nile Marr and his band Man Made, including bassist Callum Rogers at The Night And Day Cafe in Manchester (Photo by Visionhaus # GP / Corbis via Getty Images)

In response to problems with noise complaints raised by Night & Day Cafe, a Manchester City Council spokesman told NME that the place “was not threatened with closure”.

“A Noise Abatement Notice (NAN) has been issued following complaints of excessive noise,” they said. “A NAN cannot be used to close a venue, it is used to prevent continued noise nuisance.

“Following a series of repeated complaints from residents living nearby, the council investigated allegations of excessive night and day noise. During these visits, council officials found that the noise level was a nuisance. The council has a duty to investigate complaints about noise nuisance and where if a statutory nuisance is found, the council has a duty to service a Reduction Notice to the person responsible. “

They continued: “The Council has on several occasions sought to engage with this meeting place in an attempt to reach a solution that works for both them and residents. Despite this, further issues were reported, which meant that the Council had no choice but to issue a NAN.

“The site is entitled to appeal this communication and we urge them to work with the Council to avoid any future enforcement action.”

Meanwhile, The Music Venue Trust was named our charity partner for the upcoming BandLab NME Awards 2022 this week.

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