Noise complaints threaten pub’s weekend trade

Noise Abatement Order due to be served on Seaton landlords.

THE owners of a social club in Seaton, who face legal action, say their trade will be “killed off” if East Devon District Council serves them with a noise abatement order following complaints.

Pat and Julie Nield, who run PJ’s Social Club, which is based in premises formerly occupied by Seaton Town Social Club, have been bombarded with complaints over their live Saturday entertainment since March and feel they are being victimised.

The couple opened the business in November last year, after purchasing the club at an auction and were not aware of any noise problems until they started receiving complaints.

Mr Nield said: “From November up until about March, we didn’t hear a thing so, as far as we were concerned, there was no issue with noise. I do feel like someone is trying to shut us down.”

Mr Nield is on the verge of being served with a noise abatement order by the district council, which carries a fine of up to �20,000 if breached.

He said: “If I am forced to have no music it is going to kill my Saturday trade completely. I might as well shut, if that is the case.”

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The couple have spent between �500 and �1,000 on measures to reduce sound leakage from the establishment, including having a new insulated ceiling put in and have even resorted to buying their own sound meter in a bid to control the noise levels.

Mr Nield added: “I am disgusted with the council. We are trying to do something positive for Seaton and they haven’t helped us.

“From my point of view, everything the council has done has worked against me. I think we are being targeted – there is something here that is amiss and I don’t believe the council has followed the correct procedures.”

He added: “The fact is I have tried to resolve the problem and they have just discounted what I have suggested. I am prepared to knock the music down to their recommended level, but they are still saying I have to have no music.”

The social club caters for a largely elderly clientele, providing sixties and seventies music as well as bingo during the week.

As a result of the complaints the couple have been forced to cancel much of the club’s live entertainment, which Mr Nield says has driven some of the club’s customers away and cost them a considerable amount of money.

He said: “The last time we didn’t have any music we only took �50. Even our customers are sick of the situation.”

Mr Nield told the Midweek Herald he thinks the situation is “ridiculous” and that he sits in the bar with his sound meter to monitor the levels himself, which he says has now become a running joke with customers.”

A spokesman from East Devon District Council said: “This issue involves a former hotel that was converted into flats some 15 or more years ago with a ‘club’ in the middle. For some months now our environmental health team has been involved in investigating noise complaints from occupiers of the adjoining flats who say they are affected by the live amplified music. We have evidence of this through taking recordings from neighbouring properties.

“We have played Mr Nield recordings made in neighbours’ properties and he has acknowledged that there is a problem.

“Officers have spent a good deal of time trying to help Mr Nield but, after a considerable amount of investigation, we find no alternative but to serve a Noise Abatement Notice.

“Whilst we sympathise with Mr Nield who is trying to run a business, we must take full account of our responsibilities to protect residents from intrusive and excessive noise.”