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Medway Council accused of hypocrisy after series of noise abatement orders handed out to venues in Rochester

Castle Concerts, Castle Gardens, Rochester
Castle Concerts, Castle Gardens, Rochester

Medway Council has been accused of hypocrisy after "cracking down" on pub gigs while its own Castle Concerts go ahead.

The second oldest stage in England has axed all amplified gigs after being served a noise abatement order.

Andrew and Mary Barnes, who run the Royal Function Rooms in Star Hill, Rochester, said they had no choice when faced with a £20,000 fine.

The orders, which have also been served on the nearby Nag’s Head and Singapora Lounge, are triggered by complaints and force “live and loud amplified music” to cease.

But promoters say the orders are often triggered by one person complaining repeatedly and do not state how loud is too loud.

Tim Robinson retired last year after 22 years running the Barge pub in Layfield Road, Gillingham, a hub of the folk scene.

The 62-year-old said: "Surely the council are going to have to ban themselves? The rule was always 70 decibels from the eaves of the nearest house."

He hit out at the popular Castle Concerts, which this year run from July 17-20 and include The Wanted, Status Quo and a proms night.

It is believed the concerts receive about four or five complaints a year.

"Rochester Castle Gardens is a venue like anything else," said Mr Robinson.

"It’s hypocritical, of course it is. We hear the noise in Gillingham from our pub."

Andrew and Mary Barnes, the owners of the Royal Function Rooms in Star Hill, Rochester
Andrew and Mary Barnes, the owners of the Royal Function Rooms in Star Hill, Rochester

Even music promoter Val Weedon said the council has gone too far, despite being made an MBE for her campaigns against nuisance noise.

The Lordswood resident said: “It does seem extremely unfair these venues that have been running live music events for years are suddenly being penalised.

"I was at a couple of events at the Royal Function Rooms last year and can’t possibly understand how it causes a noise problem."

A council spokesman said abatement orders were not handed out lightly and they weighed up the needs of venues, adding: "a resident cannot live in an urban area and expect to never hear any noise in their home."

He said:

“In regards to the Castle Concerts, we not only work to very strict conditions, we also always make sure that the music is switched off by 10.30pm – which is actually 30 minutes before the licence says it has to stop. In addition, unlike indoor music venues, the castle’s licence restricts it to holding just 10 concerts a year, or five in a row.

“We employ a sound expert who walks around outside the castle grounds during each show with a sound meter measuring the decibel output to make sure it never goes above our limit.

“We work very closely with all those neighbouring the council, including the cathedral, and local residents are also provided with the mobile number of a senior events manager."

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