Statment from Chris Wales, Landlord, The Met Bar & Function Venue, Whitby
RE: Noise Abatement Notice, The Met, Whitby
Following a post on the Real Whitby Facebook page I wanted to take the opportunity to clear a few things up and present the facts (as the venue sees them) and hopefully calm some of the concerns raised.
Earlier this month the venue was served with a Noise Abatement Notice from Scarborough Borough Council in relation to an ongoing noise complaint from a flat owner directly above the venue in Metropole Towers.
When this issue was first brought to my attention back in April 2015 we attempted to work with the flat owners to deal with and hopefully resolve the issue without getting the authorities involved. This was never going to be the case sadly.
Despite various attempts within the venue to reduce noise levels (sound proofing the entrance hall ceiling, fitting door shutters, significantly reducing the noise output from functions) we hit a brick wall in October 2015 when we were threatened with legal action.
I’d like to make it very clear that at no point during the council ‘investigations’ did we deny that there may be an issue. In fact we went as far to ask the council to assist us in trying to resolve it should they find there was a problem. We have been co-operative and willing at every step along the way.
SBC conducted a number of ‘investigations’ by leaving sound monitoring equipment within the property from where the complaint came from. From that we were advised in February 2016 (10 months after the original complaint) that there was an issue and that we would have to ‘sort it’ or face further action.
SBC, as many of you will be only too aware, are not the easiest people to get hold of. It took me over a week to get hold of the relevant person to discuss the matter further and it was only after literally pleading with them that I convinced them to visit the venue themselves and try and offer my some more practical advice to move forward.
They did indeed visit the venue and agreed that they should make arrangements to come see me whilst we had an event on that could create noise issues. Happy we were getting somewhere I provided them with a list of public and private events coming up. In the meanwhile the head of department instructed me to ‘continue running events as you have been’.
Then I waited. And waited…and waited some more. Then the Notice arrived. No visit to the premises as promised. Instead, and this is possibly the best part of this, they had used the information I provided them of upcoming dates to carry out THREE personal visits to the property upstairs to witness the noise levels themselves. They didn’t visit the venue. When questioned why they were unable to provide me with any proper reason and acknowledged they had not done as they said they would and they are now unwilling to provide me with any real answers to the many questions I’ve had over the course of this fiasco.
The outpouring of support on Facebook has been lovely to read. It’s nice to know people are concerned.
As far as any petitions, letters, complaints etc go…it sadly won’t make any difference. It only takes one to complain and SBC have already responded to some letters from concerned parties to tell them it’s none of the business.
Common sense about buying a flat about an already existing place of entertainment doesn’t seem to be taken into account either.
I’ve been asked on a few occasions throughout today why we haven’t mentioned this before, gone to the papers, Facebook etc. The answer is simply that we’ve been trying to keep this very professional. Approaching the media in whatever form was only, in my opinion, going to add fuel to a very big fire and I didn’t want any more problems on top of the ones we’re already dealing with.
Several events have decided to move venues. I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that this was NOT our choice and that any events who have moved elsewhere have done so themselves.
What happens next?
I have personally decided that it’s time to move on. The past 16 months have tarnished what has been a wonderful part of my life. I have genuinely enjoyed the challenge the venue presents but my enthusiasm, passion and love of the place has gone. Would I have stayed without these issues….probably, but alas I’ve decided my sanity is more important.
The current owners of the building are dedicated to trying to find someone else to take over. They, like many others, do not want the place to be empty and are aware of the impact that may have on the local community.
The comment on Facebook that the venue will close is not true. Everything is being done to ensure this does not happen. At no point have SBC told us we cannot run events and at no point have they told us we will close.
So….until I leave mid-October it’s very much business as usual. All events will be going ahead as planned (if a little quieter then we would like) and I look forward to seeing you all over the next few months whilst I contemplate my next career move.
Landlord, The Met Bar & Function Venue, Whitby