A bar in Truro will have to get acoustic specialists to set its noise levels so it doesn’t disturb people living nearby following a review of its licence. Cornwall Council environmental protection officers had called for the review following significant noise complaints against Bunters Bar.
Despite attempts by officers to work with the bar’s licensees to address the issues, noise complaints continued to be made. As a result Cornwall Council’s licensing act sub-committee today considered the review.
Councillors heard that complaints had been made against Bunters for more than two years and that despite a “constructive” meeting with the owners last summer correspondence had since gone unanswered.
Environmental protection officer Mark Hitchens told councillors that he had tried to work with licensee Jason Masters to put measures in place to remove the noise disturbance but “I have seen no evidence that this has happened”.
There were three main issues – the noise of loud amplified music from the bar; the noise from customers using the bar’s smoking area; and staff emptying glass bottles into bins late at night.
Mr Hitchens recommended that the committee put a condition on the licence so that glass could not be emptied between 8pm and 8am. To address the issue of loud music, which he said was “still excessive” after 11pm, he suggested all music should end at 11pm; and for the smoking area to not be used beyond midnight and that no customers allowed to take alcoholic drinks out there past 11pm.
David Campbell, a solicitor acting on behalf of Mr Masters, said that ending music at 11pm would be “catastrophic” for the business and would reduce the income they could generate at busy weekend periods.
This was confirmed by Mr Masters who said that when the bar trialled ending music at 11pm “the customers all left”. He also said that the bar would only be viable if they could have bands or music playing until at least midnight.
Asked by Mr Campbell what happened during the trial he said: “It decimated the take, after 11pm it was dead. Takings were down by 30 per cent on Friday night. As soon as the bands finished everybody left the pub.”
Mr Campbell said that as an independent business Bunters played an important part in supporting the night time economy in Truro, employing local people, hiring local bands to play at the bar and using local suppliers.
The solicitor said that he had discussed the issues with Mr Masters and proposed that they would employ an acoustic consultant to meet with Mr Hitchens at Bunters to measure noise levels during a typical Friday night and then set the limits which should be adhered to in a bid to reduce noise disturbance for residents and allow the business to continue to operate.
Mr Hitchens said that he was “more than happy” to do that and said that it was a measure which he had suggested himself to Mr Masters when they had previously met. He said: “I mentioned an acoustic consultant in November 2021, we are in February 1, 2023 and the offer is only just being made. If we had come to that more quickly we may not be where we are at this time.”
Mr Campbell said that the emptying of glass into bins late at night had not been from Bunters staff and said other businesses use the bins in the area. Mr Masters said that all glass was emptied during the daytime.
When asked why he had not responded to the emails and letters sent by Mr Hitchens last year to try and resolve the issues Mr Masters claimed to have not received them and that he had not received a response when he tried to phone the council.
The committee agreed that the licence for Bunters should be amended with additional conditions. These included that the terminal hour for live and recorded music be reduced to midnight.
They also added a condition that Bunters employ an acoustic consultant to work with Mr Hitchens to agree suitable noise limits and that those limits be shared with staff at the bar and any bands which play there with Mr Masters keeping a note of the noise levels which could be shared with the local authority if required.
The committee also added a condition that empty glass should only be emptied into bins between the hours of 8am and 8pm.
In making their decision councillors said that they had considered all the evidence and felt that the amended conditions were reasonable and proportionate. The committee voted two in favour and one against the proposals.