In the House of Lords on Monday 1st February, Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty’s Government "what assessment they have made of the impact on informal and spontaneous busking and on homeless people of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and guidelines made under that Act".
When Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon answered for the Government that they had not carried out any such assesment, Lord Clement-Jones replied,
"My Lords, that is not particularly reassuring. There is a real problem: scores of public space protection orders, thousands of community protection notices and tens of thousands of dispersal notices have already been issued routinely on an arbitrary basis against street entertainers, young people and the homeless for many legitimate, non-harmful activities such as busking, skateboarding and even carrying a golf bag. This is chilling. Is it not high time that we took stock of these powers and amended the guidance—and, if necessary, the primary legislation—before our freedoms are eroded any further?"
The debate broadened to discuss the Homeless
Link to this speech:-
The Live Music Forum has consistemtly highlighted the problem of The Single Complaint, where a resident moves near to an established live music venue, and then starts complaining about the level of noise. On many occasions this has led to the closure of the venue. In most Boroughs a noise complaint from a single resident is enough to trigger a review by the Council's Environmental Services Dept. Attitudes to Live Music and Noise Complaints vary widely across the Country, too often influenced by the personal interpretation of a Council Officer. (PL)
Now, seasoned London musician,Tich Turner has mounted a campaign to save The Pelton Arms in Greenwich, South East London. Here is his letter to London Mayor, Boris Johnson.
This is a begging letter. Not for any money but hopefully your attention, help and support.
Here in South East London, the local community, management, staff and a whole host of quality musicians are extremely concerned about the possible loss of a superb live music Public House called The Pelton Arms, 23-25 Pelton Road, in Greenwich.
I would like to give you some background history. I should however, explain my own involvement. I have been a singer/songwriter, fronting bands for over 45 years now and since 1981, have been performing in South East London. I have played at The Pelton on many occasions over the past 6 years.
We have a situation here where a rundown pub, fit only for drunkards and drug addicts, has been totally transformed by the landlord, Geoff Keen. He took over about 6 years ago and introduced live music as well as spending a relative fortune investing in a lovely garden, putting in a fully functional kitchen and generally making it into a pub that people wanted to go to. He cleared out all the riff-raff and has made sure that every one of his management team and bar staff is not only professional but warm and friendly too. The pub is always busy at lunchtimes, with quality food on offer, and various other live music nights, which bring in keen, enthusiastic audiences. They even have a knitting club! There is never any trouble and you would be hard pushed to find a better local pub.
Unfortunately, around 2 years ago a large new build of flats called Sir Francis Drake Court was completed – directly opposite the pub. Any prospective buyer of the flats could not fail to notice the pub across the road, or the many posters in the windows advertising the various bands etc. In any case, in this day and age, it only takes a matter of minutes to look up a pub on the Internet and discover what it's all about.
Yet from the off, one gentleman took it upon himself to start complaining about the noise. There must be around 40-50 flats there and not one other person has complained. In keeping with their general demeanour, the landlord, manager and staff did everything possible to find out who the complainant was, in an effort to engage in some dialogue and see what could be done to keep everyone happy. But the only dialogue they have been able to have is with the local Environmental Health Department's Richard Harris and he and they, refuse to disclose the name of the complainant.
Just last year in an attempt to bring a halt to the constant complaints, Geoff, on two separate occasions, spent a total of £45,000 on double and in some areas, triple glazing, to cure the problem. On live music nights, he also changed the entrance that is opposite the flats, to an entrance around the side, so that the noise could not be heard every time someone went in or out of the pub. It is hard to see what more he could possibly do. As Mr Keen so rightly says, it could be entirely possible that this is some kind of vendetta against him, perhaps by some disgruntled customer, that he has had to bar from the pub for anti-social behaviour. How is he to know?
We have now reached the point where the manager and staff can no longer enjoy the bands they have booked. They spend their evenings in a constant state of stress, worrying if there'll be another complaint. And to make matters worse Geoff Keen is now considering packing it in, due to two stressful years.
The EHD now want him to install a noise limiter. Any musician who has played a venue with one of these will tell you that as soon as the drummer warms up, the limiter is likely to cut off all the power. This is unbelievably frustrating and is also extremely damaging to expensive equipment. If one of these is installed it will be the death knell for live music at the pub.
I'm sure you are aware of how much the rock and pop industry has contributed to the nation's wealth since the early 60's. What you may be unaware of is how this was and still is achieved. Virtually every major artist from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and David Bowie to Coldplay etc., learnt their trade playing in pubs. Many of them signed off the back of those performances. From our local area alone has come: Squeeze, Jools Holland, Dire Straits, Kate Bush, David Bowie, the Flying Pickets and no doubt many more. Between them they have earned a fortune for this country. If we keep losing live music pubs due to the complaints of one individual, where exactly will a new generation of high earners come from? The pubs are the bedrock of the UK's leading success across the globe for over 50 years. Artistes just starting out do not get to play the 02 or Shepherd's Bush Empire. They begin their careers in pubs, and also provide an enormous amount of pleasure for the many thousands of people who go out every week to see live music at their local.
If this gentleman's complaints are upheld, the wonderful bar staff and kitchen staff will lose their jobs. The manager, along with his wife and child, will have to find somewhere else to live. All the many musicians will lose yet another great venue, the local community will have lost a great pub and a fine, well-respected landlord will lose a pub he has worked so hard on. But perhaps the biggest tragedy is that if Mr Keen does leave, the pub will almost certainly revert to its former inglorious past. Then the gentleman living across the street will definitely have something to complain about.
This would be an absolute travesty of democracy, where one anonymous individual can bring about the loss of a pub. This problem is occurring right across the country.
I'm sorry that this is such a long letter, but I really didn't know how else to supply you with all the necessary information.
Please can you intervene as soon as possible and help stop this massacre of so many people's pleasure and ensure that we, as a country, stay at the forefront of popular music. In fact, why don't you pay it a visit?"
Kind Regards, Tich Turner
Tich Turner: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Pelton Arms: email@example.com