Publicans Mr and Mrs Brown were put under immense strain when a noise abatement order came through the post.
Living in a local Brighton pub for over 16 years without a problem, it came as quite a shock to her, “I was angry; mostly because I hadn’t been approached personally by the neighbours.”
It started in July 2013 when the Environmental out of Hours Noise Patrol team from the council told Mrs Brown that they had received complaints about the level of noise and followed up with a letter.
“I spoke with the council and asked them what we needed to do to reduce the noise levels and they said that they would help me which they never did.”
A couple of weeks later they held a party with a DJ, and two days later received another letter in the post informing them that they had breached the notice.
“I liased with the council again and asked them, again, as I did not know who was complaining at this stage.”
Mr and Mrs Brown and, hold a license that allows them to play music until 11.30pm and drinks aren’t allowed outside after 11pm.
“It was a very hot summer; the windows were kept open throughout the evening until 11.30pm, in order to manage the noise, much to the discomfort of the customers inside the pub.”
Mrs Brown said it was frustrating that she had liased with the council to do all that they could to reduce the noise levels and they had not helped in any way.
“On the August bank holiday weekend it was my birthday on the Friday and on the Saturday we had a Frank Sinatra Tribute.”
Mrs Brown contacted the council to ask them if there were any more complaints and if they had managed the noise. They replied back saying that there were no complaints; however, they were told that the birthday party has been very loud.
“We always have karaoke on the last Saturday of the month, I had told the DJ to turn off the bass, there was only one speaker and he had been moved to the other end of the pub to control the noise. My husband and I even patrolled the outside of the pub to make sure that it wasn’t too loud.”
On 7th September we had a 40th birthday party and a DJ again. The DJ was advised about the noise complaints and he ensured that he followed our instructions.
Following this event, and again two days later, Mr and Mrs Brown received a second breach and that they would now be taken to court.
On the 7th November they were summoned to appeal in court. “I had sought legal advice but decided that I would be defending myself.”
Mrs Brown and her husband appeared in a court with two magistrates who asked them a series of questions; how do you plead? Why do you plead guilty? how long have you lived in the pub? How long have you held and how often do you hold music events? And how long have the neighbours lived next door?
“I replied that we pleaded guilty as we did have music events on these occasions. We have lived in the pub for 16 years, and held events for 16 years only having it once a month. To which she repeated ‘once a month?’”
“I also advised that our direct neighbours had been expecting their first child and perhaps the summer had aggravated the situation due to the ongoing heat.”
The outcome was that the magistrates agreed with Mrs Brown’s statement. They got let off on conditional discharge and £600 in court fees without any changes to their license, meaning that if they were to offend within six months they would face a £2,000 fine, loss of their license and possible imprisonment.
“It was horrible. This had been the worst time of my life. The worry meant that I couldn’t sleep properly and the possible outcomes of the court case were constantly on my mind. I never want to go through that again.”