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Venues 'must be allowed to rock'

3 November 09 16:31 GMT

"You can't be a rock venue without rocking, basically."

That is the view of Kent Davis, landlord of The Rainbow pub in Digbeth, Birmingham, where local act UB40 are soon to play a free concert to help raise £30,000 for a sound-insulating roof.

Joss Stone, The Prodigy, Ladyhawke, 808 State and another local band, The Twang, have all graced the venue which is at the heart of the city's rock scene.

But the pub is not the only venue in the Digbeth area of Birmingham city centre to be told to reduce its noise levels - The Spotted Dog has taken its outdoor gigs inside.

'Duty bound'

Some residents enjoy being able to go to pubs and clubs on their doorstep, but others have made complaints.

Mr Davis said: "Our gripe is one person's complaint can close a place down."

But if it can take a handful of complaints to trigger a noise-abatement order, what is the future of the live music scene in the area?

A city council spokesman said it was "duty bound" under government legislation to take action, regardless of the number of complaints.

In a statement, the council said it was "committed to working with Mr Davis and others to create a world-class cultural environment within which the creative vibrancy of Digbeth can flourish".

The authority added at the same time it wanted to ensure "all the relevant regulations which protect the quality of life for local residents are adhered to".

A spokesman stressed planning and licensing legislation was set nationally, not by the city council.

He said: "We are responsible, then, for implementing that.

"Under the legislation there is not much flexibility on how we interpret the rules."

'Vibrant area'

But Mr Davis stressed that the police were "very happy with the kind of things we do".

In June the city council said four complaints had been made about The Rainbow, two from residents of the nearby Abacus apartments.

Abacus was built in 2003, although the pub was already operating in its current form at that point.

Mr Davis, who said that the "finishing touches" were being added to the sound-insulating roof ahead of the UB40 gig, explained that he feels there is a responsibility on people moving into the area to do some research.

"There's an element to which anyone who's moving to the area needs to be encouraged to obviously do their homework.

"They are moving not only to city centre apartments, but also slap-bang in the middle of a vibrant entertainment area."

Mr Davis said that if the pub breaks the noise-abatement order, it would face a possible £25,000 fine and review of its licence.

"We know that 95% of them [local residents] are very supportive of us anyway from the noise surveys that we've done in the area.

"The city planners promote the fact Digbeth is a vibrant and cultural place.

"But that doesn't square with what's actually happening on the ground."

The landlord of The Spotted Dog, John Tighe, said he was issued with a noise-abatement notice after two previous warnings.

"I had to cancel loads of events that were organised in the garden - 18 in total."

One Digbeth resident, Mark Wood, said he was only getting about four hours of sleep a night because of noise in the area.

"At one point it was interrupting my job."

But another resident, Earl Frazier, said he came to the area because it was the "prime location to move to, really".

"I knew what was around me - The Custard Factory, The Rainbow and going out in Birmingham."

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