Music Venues (Noise)

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 16th October 2014.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 9:30 am, 16th October 2014

What steps he is taking to protect music venues from closure as a result of noise complaints.

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

The Government have recently reviewed their legislation and believe that the law as currently constituted strikes the appropriate balance between considering the needs of venues and managing the adverse effects that can come from noise.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

I thank the Minister for that response. He will know that many people are arguing for an agent of change law in this country, as there is in Australia. They do not believe that existing legislation protects venues from developers who are building around the venue then submitting noise complaints. The owner of The Fleece in Bristol says that

“the reality of the current situation could not be further from the picture painted in the planning practice guidance”,

and the venue’s representatives are back before the planning committee next Wednesday.

The Minister will very soon be getting an invitation to Venues day on 9 December, which will be held just across the river on the south bank. May I urge him to attend that, where he will meet many venue owners who will explain to him just how difficult the situation is on the ground?

D

Hope she enjoyed the crap that was on show at Eastville park Bristol recently, £30 a ticket to listen to overplayed noise, please no more, If she wants live open aired music, Play it in her garden.

Submitted by David Britton

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

The hon. Lady is a great champion of live music, so it does not surprise me that she is raising this issue, and I will certainly consider the invitation to Venues day. As far as The Fleece is concerned, I understand that Bristol city council has imposed some acoustic restrictions on planned developments around it. The agent of change principle has only recently been implemented in Australia. Some elements of it exist in our own planning policies, but I will certainly raise that with planning Ministers.

Photo of Kelvin Hopkins Kelvin Hopkins Labour, Luton North

I share the concerns of my hon. Friend Kerry McCarthy about venues. Is not the real solution to the problem to have much more effective regulation of noise from existing venues—strict noise limiters and so on? The problem is not string quartets or small jazz groups; it is heavily amplified popular music. I know people enjoy that, but should it not be limited in volume?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

In effect, the hon. Gentleman’s question reveals the dilemma, because the hon. Member for Bristol East was raising the issue of new developments springing up and new residents complaining about a music venue that has been in operation for many years—the Ministry of Sound is the most high profile recent example. At the same time, as the hon. Gentleman says, residents will want to be able to sleep soundly in their beds at night. Squaring that circle is always the difficulty that councils and planning Ministers have to wrestle with.