A key role for community

Your article '˜Plans lodged for 30 homes in Tweedmouth' about the objection by Simpsons Malt against the proposed extension of a housing scheme on the grounds that new residents could object to noise raises an interesting point, (Berwick Advertiser, July 21).

Sunday, 31st July 2016, 08:00 am
Updated Thursday, 28th July 2016, 10:12 am

As public affairs officer for Tyneside and Northunberland branch, where we have 485 members, of the Campaign for Real Ale, or in short CAMRA, I have been following your recent reporting on the noise abatement order placed on the Barrels Ale House in Berwick preventing performances with amplified live music.

Unfortunately, I did not see a report on the meeting of the Northumberland County Council area committee north at Chatton Village Hall on July 11. On the agenda was a petition attracting nearly 3,000 signatures in favour of saving live music at the Barrels.

The public house in question is a former winner of CAMRA Northumberland pub of the year. CAMRA has always been campaigning for community pubs. The Barrels, situated in Berwick’s town centre, is a well-loved community pub.

While most pubs can survive without live music, the noise abatement order alters the nature of the pub. Furthermore, it has resulted in loss of income for musicians and staff.

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At the area committee meeting, an officer from Northumberland Environmental Health insisted that the law leaves the council with no option other than to threaten criminal proceedings should amplified live music be played at the Barrels as it has a duty to act against a statutory nuisance. When I quizzed the officer how statutory nuisance is defined I was told it is not about decibels.

However, I would say councils also have to take into account where the noise occurs. A live cockerel in a town centre is more likely to be a nuisance than in the countryside, therefore should amplified live music for a few hours twice a week in an area defined as the town centre of Berwick not be classed as not the same as if it occurred in a quiet residential area?

Only a few weeks ago, a live venue in Stepney, East London, The George Tavern, won an appeal against the creation of a block of flats as it would threaten the pub as a live music venue.

Bearing all this in mind, the council should perhaps have been a little more in line with its own draft policy in its draft local plan: ‘Public houses can have a key role as a community facility.

‘In Northumberland, many public houses provide a place for social interaction within a community, are an important part of a local economy and are integral to the physical and cultural heritage of the county.

‘In recognition of these values, the council will support the provision and retention of public houses where they can be demonstrated to enhance the sustainability of local communities.’

Let us put words into action.

Hubert Gieschen

Public Affairs Officer

Campaign for Real Ale