The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Thursday 26th April 2007 - Live music and noise complaints


On 5 March in the Commons, licensing minister Shaun Woodward said in support of the new entertainment licensing regime:

'The additional bonus is that local residents, who were seriously affected in the past by live music, now have a say, which is important.'

When the Licensing Act was debated in Parliament, 2002/3, I found that the overriding concern of local residents was noisy customers outside licensed premises. Even the most vocal of residents associations, in Soho, made it clear that other legislation was adequate to tackle noise from recorded or live music emanating from within venues.

So, has anything changed since then? I checked last week with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) which supplies most of the government's noise complaint statistics. They confirmed they knew of no data or research which could specifically identify complaints about live music.

I then asked DCMS for their data on live music complaints. They didn't provide any, but said they were treating my enquiry as 'a Freedom of Information Act request'. This is strange: the government has always stressed the need for evidence-based policy, and if they had data showing a clear link between live music and a serious effect on local residents you would think they would be keen to publicise it.

Hamish Birchall