Published: 06:00, 22 July 2021
| Updated: 13:04, 26 July 2021
A crooner who has delighted neighbours by singing in his Maidstone doorway during the pandemic says he is shocked someone complained to the council.
Jonathan Purssell, 67, started singing on Thursday evenings in May last year because he could not perform at his regular venues, and for something to do while shielding due to health problems.
Watch: Jonathan Purssell singing and playing guitar in his doorway
The dad-of-two, who lives in Thornhill Place, even raised hundreds for charity through his singing and baking, but has now been informed of a complaint lodged with Maidstone Borough Council (MBC), alleging that his music is causing a disturbance to local residents.
The letter warns that an investigation will be launched if the situation does not improve.
Mr Purssell, a retired graphic technician, said: “I play anything gentle, I don’t play hard rock. I play folk, country, 60s or 70s music, nothing too noisy. I was shocked, I thought ‘come to the door and talk to me and we can sort this out’.”
Before the pandemic, he performed regularly at The Dragoon and the Flower Pot pubs.
He started singing and playing guitar in his doorway when the weekly clap for carers ended in May 2020.
He has played every Thursday since then, except for a two month hiatus in the winter.
After a month on his own, he was joined by two friends, a classical and jazz guitarist and another singer, while making sure they socially distanced. He says neighbours have got to know each other better through the weekly shows.
He said: “It’s built up a real camaraderie. We have all become really friendly with each other and that’s all down to this.
“Everyone comes out. I have got Christmas cards from people saying how wonderful it is.”
“I am at high risk, I nearly died a few years back, this gives me something to do. Ever since Covid I haven’t gone out much.”
Mr Purssell even raised £800 for Macmillan Cancer Support one weekend, where he baked cakes and performed
He normally plays between 7 and 8.30pm but admits in the last couple of weeks it has been going on later, nearer to 9pm and once at 9.10pm.
Last Thursday, he received a letter from MBC, informing him of the complaint about loud music and singing.
The letter, from the community protection team, said at this stage the local authority has not “substantiated this allegation” but has a duty to investigate.
The council has been sent an incident record sheet and the information received is that on a “regular basis, you play your music and sing at a very high volume, causing disturbance to local residents.”
If MBC receives further evidence that the situation has not improved, a formal investigation will be carried out.
It finishes: “Therefore, can you please ensure your music/ singing does not cause a nuisance to local residents.”
Mr Purssell admits that the later finishes could have been a problem but says: “It’s the kind of thing that we could have worked out if we spoke to the person who complained.”
“If someone had knocked on my door and said ‘it’s a bit too loud’ I would say ‘I will turn the volume down’, or they could have slid a note under my door.”
He uses an amp, but without it, people wouldn’t be able to hear him, as he plays in his doorway.
He finished: “I don’t see why I should just stop if I can put the volume down and play half the time. I am just trying to do the right thing.”
A spokesman for MBC said: "Maidstone Borough Council has a duty to investigate noise nuisance complaints.
"The council’s approach is to reach a position whereby all parties can reach an amicable solution."