Parliament are currently considering a proposal which will see a person or business responsible for a change in noise conditions being held responsible for managing that change.
Under the current rules, someone can move next door to a live music venue and seek control measures via Environmental Health to quieten it down regardless of how long the venue has been there. It is then up to the venue to fork out for the noise levels to be restricted.
However, under new proposals revealed by John Spellar MP in his Private Members’ Bill, it will be assumed that anybody who chooses to move next door to a music venue knows there will be noise from that venue. It will be their responsibility to pay for any noise-cancelling measures they may wish invest in. Likewise, a music venue that makes changes, or opens afresh, will be responsible for carrying out tests to ensure its noise emissions don’t increase.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has joined the cross-party campaign, describing Mr Spellar’s proposal as a ‘common-sense solution’.
Councillor Gerald Vernon Jackson, chair of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board is quoted as saying “Our live music venues are part of the cultural lifeblood of communities, but sadly the increase in demand for housing in town centres is bringing some residents into conflict with them.
It cannot be right that someone can knowingly move next door to such a venue and then decide afterwards that the music is a nuisance, in the same way that it is not right for a venue to install a speaker system without consideration for nearby residents”.
More than a-third of venues across the UK have shut over the past decade, so Labour MP John Spellar, with support from the industry organisation ‘UK Music’ and a number of high profile musicians including Chrissie Hynde, and Sir Paul McCartney MBE, is busy trying to persuade the British Government to make the ‘Agent of Change’ Bill into an Act of Parliament.
Mr. Spellar has also been keen to point out in a recent statement, the wider effects of venue closures, stating “Fewer venues means less work, less opportunity to develop talent or even find out that you are not going to make it in the industry, but also to move up from amateur to part-time, to full-time, to national or even international stardom. If the present situation does not change, we are in danger of taking away the ladder that has served individual musicians and the music industry so well for so long.”
For now though, it’s wait and see if the House of Commons has the foresight, and perhaps more importantly the backbone, to make a real difference to live music venues.