Licensing

A SURVIVOR’S GUIDE TO LICENSING ISSUES

The new and highly controversial Licensing regime came into effect on 24 November 2005. This document provides information, advice and guidance concerning:

  1. The Licensing hours in force for our local pubs and clubs
  2. The remedies available for dealing with noise and other disturbances; and
  3. How to register complaints relating to noise and other nuisances caused by pubs and clubs in the City [1].

The City of London website states:

“Noise pollution can adversely affect the quality of life for both residents and workers in the City. Exposure to unreasonable noise can be disturbing and can even affect our general health if uncontrolled.”

Dealing with noise nuisance is the responsibility of the City of London’s Department of Environmental Services (“DES”). The DES are able to deal with noise from pubs and clubs, construction site noise, road work noise, plant and air conditioning noise, noise from commercial premises and intruder alarms but have no powers to deal with railway, road traffic, aircraft noise or unruly behaviour in public streets; the latter problem is for the police to handle.

Practical steps you can take for Noise Issues Relating to Pubs and Clubs

Licences lay down the operating hours of pubs and clubs and contain conditions to limit noise nuisance. Licences vary from one venue to another, but none of them authorises an unreasonable level of noise or nuisance [2].

Direct Approach to Pub or Club

  • If a pub or club is responsible for unreasonable noise you may ask them to reduce the noise. We have a few contact numbers for some pubs so you can call the bar management to report the problem and request that the noise nuisance be dealt with straight away (see the table at the end of this document). This may not work, but if it does, it provides an immediate solution to the problem. If the direct approach fails, the City Police or DES can be called.

For traffic or people in the street causing noise problems

  • Contact the City of London Police on 0207 601 2222 and ask them to attend if possible. This is important to deal with the immediate problem, to compile a history of complaints received and obtain evidence of persistent concerns about specific premises.

For all other noise problems coming from the pub or club

  • Contact DES. Where, as is likely, the complaint arises outside normal office hours, call the Guildhall switchboard (0207 606 3030) and your call will be forwarded to the duty Environmental Health Officer. The Duty Officer is likely to be at home some distance from London and will respond to you within one hour but may require considerable time to attend to deal with the problem. He or she should advise you how long will be needed to arrive to witness the problem. The noise problem may have stopped before the duty officer arrives. It is therefore recommended that the Duty Officer only be asked to attend when there is a reasonable prospect that the nuisance will still be evident by the time the officer arrives.
  • If you want to register or discuss the complaint or problem during the day or by email the DES contact is: Dawn Ryan, Environmental Health Officer, telephone: 0207 332 1587 dawn.ryan@cityoflondon.gov.uk or the general address which is DES.GeneralEnq@corpoflondon.gov.uk

Notification of Problems and Keeping a Diary

  • It is sensible to register all noise concerns with DES so that they can build up a diary of concerns received. The Licensing Team in DES need to be aware of any venue that continues to cause legitimate concerns to neighbours so that they can take either informal or formal action as necessary and consider whether any review of their license is required. These concerns can be raised direct with the Licensing Team although Dawn Ryan will ensure they have copies of any complaint she or DES receives.
  • If you are disturbed by noise or other disruption which you feel is unreasonable, in addition to contacting the pub itself or the City Police/DES or both to rectify matters, keep a written record in the form of a diary. This is VITAL. DES suggests that the record cover:
    • Who you are, the time and place of the problem, where you observed from, your daytime contact details (phone and/or email) so that DES officers can ask about factual matters.
    • The notes should be simple but include answers to the following questions: – what was the problem, who was responsible, where it arose, when it started, for how long it lasted. Photographs or video footage can save hundreds of words and represent a permanent record.

Complainants should be aware that Pollution Team officers usually have to witness the noise before taking formal action.

If you are unhappy with the way in which noise and related complaints are investigated, then refer the matter to:

  • Steve Blake, Principal Environmental Health Officer, Corporation of London, Department of Environmental Services, P.O. Box 270, Guildhall, London EC2P 2EJ. Tel 020 7332 1604 steve.blake@corpoflondon.gov.uk

[1] Some venues near us are located in the Borough of Islington. The DES contact number for Islington is 7527 3258 (office hours) or 7527 3229 at other times.

[2] Under the Environmental Protection Act, noise problems are assessed by whether the noise is ‘unreasonable’ after considering factors such as loudness, time of day, how often it occurs and how long it lasts. Unreasonable noise is a ‘statutory nuisance’ under the powers in the Environmental Protection Act 1990. If the noise is thought to be a statutory nuisance the Corporation must serve an ‘abatement notice’ on the person or organisation responsible. The scope of the notice will vary with different circumstances and may require an immediate stop to the noise and prohibit its recurrence. In some cases, particularly where works are necessary, a specified time may be given for compliance. Failure to comply with an abatement notice is an offence and the Corporation can prosecute.