This has become such a depressingly familiar story: New neighbour moves in right next to a well known music venue. New neighbour doesn’t like the noise that was going on well before they showed up.
New neighbour starts complaining to the police/council until the venue either gets closed down or has so many restrictions placed on it that it’s impossible to continue as a venue.
The latest venue to suffer this fate is the Blind Tiger Club in Brighton, who have closed down while they try to find a solution to the noise abatement order handed to them after a neighbour moved in upstairs and started complaining.
Here’s part of a statement explaining their situation that was posted on the club’s website on the 26th May 2014 – their last weekend of music events:
WHEN GOOD NEIGHBOURS… DON’T BECOME GOOD FRIENDS.
Just over a year ago, The Blind Tiger got a new neighbour.
The neighbour rented a small one-bedroom flat, on the floor above our venue. Specifically, about three metres above our stage. Our stage, of course, is where you will commonly find drum kits, cellos, tubas, trumpets, guitars, keyboards, violins, and countless other instruments, playing for a bar of dancing people. And there, so it turned out much later on, was the beginning of the end.
Soon after moving in, the neighbour started to complain, on occasion, about the noise. Usually, this was reacted to swiftly and informally – we gave the neighbour a 24-hr contact number, and we did our best to cut out volume or bass from certain performances.
However, our best proved inadequate to stop the neighbour’s complaints. Given the location of their flat, and the construction of the building, it seems to be almost impossible to sufficiently eliminate enough noise, vibrations or disturbance from playing music on the floor below. Unless it’s so quiet that no-one can dance to it.
After a year of occasional and informal complaints, a few weeks ago, the neighbour stopped contact with us, and complained directly to the police. The police referred the matter to the council. The council investigated whether the neighbour was being illegally disturbed or not, as they are obliged to do.
As a result of that, The Blind Tiger was served with Notice 2014/00134/EPA80C/EH: a “Notice to Abate a Statutory Nuisance, under the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990”.
It warns The Blind Tiger that if the neighbour is disturbed by noise from the bar, after Monday 19 May 2014, the venue will be taken to court, fined £20,000, and face other sanctions, which would also result in forced closure.
In effect, the council’s notice is a MUSIC BAN. And in the case of The Blind Tiger, where music events are essential, a music ban means closure – something that the council and neighbour are well aware of.
In response, Brighton & Hove Council posted the following on their website:
On 14 March 2014 a noise abatement notice was served on the leaseholders who operate Blind Tiger following complaints about noise from live music. The business was given two months to comply with the notice. This gave time for assessments to take place and any necessary sound insulation work to be undertaken.
Blind Tiger chose to stop operating at the venue when the abatement notice period ran out on May 14 2014. The council has not closed the venue.
The council’s environmental health team has worked with the business and the Police and council’s licensing team to try and resolve any complaints received. The council is continuing to work with all parties to try and resolve this case.
We’ve been holding out for some news to give you, but we’re still in limbo really. The venue is mothballed and the music ban is in force. Politicians have listened sympathetically, but questions remain unanswered and nobody’s done anything. There’s no indication anything will change at present.
A petition launched by the bar has now been signed by over 14,000 people. Please sign it here if you wish to support this venue and help keep live music alive in Brighton.