New Town & Broughton Community council have objected to the proposal currently being consulted on by Edinburgh City Council to replace the current licensing condition which requires amplified music to be inaudible in nearby residential properties with one which merely requires that it shall not be an audible nuisance. Our objection is based on the following reasons:
- the present condition is clear cut and readily enforceable, whereas the proposed condition is subjective – who decides what is a “nuisance”? Who arbitrates in a difference of viewpoint?
- supporters claim it will enable Licensing Standards Officers to make a “fairer and more balanced judgement”. In reality, it will have the opposite effect of making judgements more difficult and subjective, harder to resolve satisfactorily, and therefore open to judicial review
- the proposal is at variance with the Music Venues Trust recommendations that, when a venue opens up in an existing area, the venue operator as “agent of change” must ensure soundproofing
- although it is claimed that the inaudibility clause discourages musicians from performing in Edinburgh, no evidence has been produced to support this view. Indeed, the city has a thriving music scene. Venues which have failed have done so for commercial / management reasons
- research shows that exposure to persistent noise can lead to health problems – deafness and chronic stress is linked to heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure and immune problems
- if Edinburgh’s policy is stricter than many other places, it reflects the need to protect the amenity of the unusually high residential component in the centre. This sector makes a valuable contribution to the economic health of the city, far greater than the music industry
- we note that the main agitation seems to be from venue proprietors rather than musicians, which suggests commercial motivation rather than altruistic support for the arts
- as other cities rediscover urban living, the Edinburgh policy could set the way forward rather than being perceived as outdated and restrictive
The full representation submitted by NTBCC can be viewed here.