Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Noisy Neighbour Problem

...or a classic legislative nonsense!! 

Once upon a time there was a New Labour government. Now this government had already been in power for a while and was scratching around for ideas to turn into new laws. Governments do this when they've been in power too long and run out of ideas. They have to do something if only to justify their existence.
Some years ago it became apparent that with modern audio technology getting louder and more available people were beginning to have issues with their neighbours playing loud music at inordinately high levels and at anti-social times. In addition noise undisciplined behaviour and modern DIY tools could if occurring repeatedly and at anti-social times be included.
The answer was to bring in laws and guidance for local authorities to use to deal with issues that couldn't be resolved with mediation and sound proofing. Very often sound proofing in the 'victims' home was expensive and impractical and the perpetrator too may well have been unable or reluctant to install it.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) arrived and made local authority Environmental Health Officers (EHO) take "all reasonable steps" to investigate a noise complaint. Once the EHO has judged that a noise constitutes a 'statutory noise nuisance' by reason of it being "noise emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance", the EHO has the duty to notify the perpetrator of the offence and advise on ways of reducing the nuisance. If this fails then the EHO issues a notice requiring the perpetrator to cease the nuisance activity. Failing to comply meant that fines and confiscation of the noise making equipment could be applied to the perpetrator.
This is all very laudable as it gives individuals a means of restoring a life free from the stress and often aggravation caused by noisy neighbours.
In 2003 the Anti-social Behaviour Act amended the Noise Act 1996 to specify the period between 23:00 and 07:00 for action against noise as Anti-social Behaviour with its associated penalties and restraints, where noise is emitted from dwellings and gardens. We're still talking about problem neighbours here. What has occurred since is that the term neighbour has been extended to include any premises and not just the house next door. Worse, the Noise Act was extended in 2008 to include noise from licensed premises.
None of the above takes into account a preexisting premises that have traditionally produced noise. These could be an engineering works, workshops and other light industry. Leisure and religious premises such as dance halls, churches as well as pubs and clubs.
We now have the ridiculous situation where a person moves into a house next door to a pub advertising live music 3 nights a week and can destroy the business and livelihood of numbers of people through repeated complaints culminating in the service of a Noise Abatement Notice by the EHO.
This absurdity has finally been crowned with the news this week that Wrington All Saints Church in Somerset has had a Noise Abatement Notice served on it, preventing the clock from chiming every quarter hour between 23:00 and 07:00. Unfortunately this isn't possible due to the fact that the computer driving the chimes isn't capable of the variation.

Update: Couple in Somerset withdraw church bell complaint

Regrettably  the couple who brought the action against the Wrington bells have withdrawn their complaint due to threats and abuse through the mail and social media. My use of the case as an example of poor legislation should not be used to condone personal attacks on those using this and other legislation for their protection.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Daily(ish) Millbrook–is nodding off

Dear friend The Millbrooker is hanging up his blogging pen.

It was he that prompted me to start this little expression of me and my thoughts and I will continue to do so.

It would have been nice if his blog had metamorphosed into something else but I suspect The Millbrooker himself is undergoing some sort of metamorphosis.

Cheers Millbrooker for all the fun and stimulation you have given so many. Over 52000 hits is pretty damned good.

PS – Give my regards to Russell when you’re next in the D&C

The Daily(ish) Millbrook

BBPA Beer Barometer– Claiming that pub beer sales suffer under increased tax on beer

For those who haven't heard of it, the British Beer and Pubs Association (BBPA) is the organisation supported by the largest brewing and pub owning companies in the UK to lobby on their behalf. There sole interest is to ensure that local and national government bodies are ‘properly’ advised on actions that affect their membership. That membership produces 95% of the beer produced in the UK and owns half of the 51,000 (and falling) pubs in the UK.

Yesterday (20/04/12) the latest BBPA Beer Barometer was published. The piece opens with statement that “Pub sales down 6.0% on same quarter last year, with off-trade sales up 4.7%. Swing shows lasting damage of Beer Tax hikes”, BBPA’s Chief Executive - Brigid Simmonds. It seems they’ve shot themselves in the foot. It is their membership who own the pubs that are being bled dry by unrealistic rents and tied beer pricing. The tax ‘hike’ is levied at the brewery gate and the impact is the same for all retailers whether they are ‘on-sales’ in pubs or ‘off sales’ in supermarkets and shops. The fact that ‘off sales’ trade is up by 4.7% shows by a simple addition that beer sales have only fallen by 1.3%. This little bit of spin is devised purely to deflect public and official attention away from the continues stream of pubs closing and publicans being fleeced by the pub landlords, the BBPA’s paymasters.

Research from Begbies Traynor published recently shows that after football clubs, pubs are suffering the greatest amount of ‘business distress’ (going bust) compared with any other business area in the UK. In the case of pub businesses the figures show that up to 50 are folding every week. It’s a good bet that the majority of these businesses are individual tenants and lease holders in pub company properties who have been driven out of business by the long term attrition of unrealistic rents and tied beer pricing.

It is clear that the ‘elephant in the room’ that the government refuse to see is the BBPA’s paymasters who continue to butcher the great British pub industry with impunity. The total liabilities of Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns stand at £6.7bn and this debt has to be serviced month by month at the expense of their tenants and leaseholders, those people who are going to the wall at the rate of 50 per week. If their income from beer sales is falling at the rate of 6% per year you can be sure that the shortfall in their profits is being even more aggressively bled out of their struggling tenants and leaseholders.

As you walk down most streets it can be seen by all that the pubs that are doing well are selling their beer cheaper than the tied houses. This includes managed houses who are a separate case, but the independently owned properties without the outrageous levels of debt to service are able to compete and are a success.

End this farce now – force the indebted pub companies out of business and put their bondholders assets in the hands of the professionals who know how to run pubs successfully for the benefit of both landlord, tenants and leaseholders and of course the consumer.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Stop the beer duty escalator - e-petition

Soapbox time again. This a very simple thing but it could make a world of difference to pub freeholders, tenants and lessees everywhere.

For years now the government have been loading tax onto alcohol in an alleged attempt to curb excessive consumption. The result has been to drive more and more people away from safe and controlled ‘on-trade’ premises – your local pub - and in through the supermarket door where beer is less than a pound a pint and you can destroy your liver for less.

Nice one New Labour and now continued by the other lot who are in charge.

SIGN THE PETITION and get your voice heard.

Stop the beer duty escalator

Stop the beer duty escalator - e-petitions

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Negativity is good, negativity is right - or a clear view from inside

Negativity is good, negativity is right
From Robert Sayles writing in The Publican’s Morning Advertiser (PMA)

Picking up on my last piece about the destruction of that iconic British institution – the British Public House as exemplified by Russell at The Devon & Cornwall in Millbrook.


Its good to see that although I find my words falling on deaf ears much of the time, when I get started on the demise of the British pub, it’s heartening to know that within the trade publicans can really support each other when they're not competing to be the last pub in the village.

Significant in this story as pointed out in a subsequent PMA Forum post is that of the other pubs in the village, one is ‘Free of Tie’ and the other is  also a Punch Taverns pub being operated rent free under a management agreement. Hardly the level playing field that the government seems to think it is.

If you haven’t read Robert’s piece in the PMA now’s the time to do it.
Negativity is good, negativity is right

Hang in there if you can Russell.

Picture taken 12/5/2011 20:58 – The Cornish Wreckers Morris side outside Russell's ‘The Devon and Cornwall’