Sound levels at folk festivals - implementation of yet more rules by Environmental Health Officers.

The previous page discussed some last minute changes to the programme for Sidmouth Folk Week 2008 that were brought about by licensing requirements.

The West Midlands Showground at Shrewsbury, the new home of the Shrewsbury Folk Festival (previously the Bridgnorth Folk Festival) seems also to have had new conditions imposed - report of a council meeting 3 April 2008.

Following some problems at earlier venues in 2006, the relocation to this large single site was widely praised by folkies. The folk event in 2007 was a resounding success for the organisers - even if much of the dancing was (so I am told) pretty poor. More generally, the showground has had extra conditions imposed.

Text from newspaper article (Shropshire Star, 5 May 2008):

West Mid Showground bosses will have to stop playing music by midnight after a raft of conditions were imposed on them following concerns from residents. Commercial director of the Shropshire and West Midlands Agricultural Society Gary Tudor had applied for the Shrewsbury showground to be able to open from 8am until 4.30am seven days a week.

He also wanted to be able to have outdoor recorded and live music until 11.59pm and the same indoors until 4am to enable other events to take place throughout the year to help secure the future of the charity.

But at a meeting last week residents raised serious concerns that their peace and quiet would be shattered by loud music being played into the early hours.

Now Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council’s licensing sub-committee has ruled that outside regulated entertainment - including live and recorded music - must end by 11.30pm, while the same indoors must end by midnight.

The showground will be able to serve alcohol from 10am until 12.30am and be able to open from 8am until 1.30am Monday to Sunday.

At a meeting yesterday the committee also imposed more than 40 conditions which the showground must comply with.

Windows and doors of the members’ pavilion will have to be closed when live music is being played, while recorded music will have to be controlled so it can not be heard outside of the showground.

Noise limiters will also have to be installed in the president’s and members’ pavilions and acceptable noise levels will be set out by an environmental health officer.

Here is one of the comments from the newspaper's website

When will people make considered choices on where they live? If you want a quiet life don’t move to an area with a large public venue in the vicinity.

Shrewsbury Folk Festival 2007 was brilliant but these new regs will kill off this big annual event if we cannot even continue personal acoustic music making outside our tents after 11.30pm. Also live music inside with doors & windows closed at the height of Summer, is the audience really expected to suffer this?

Many many folk festivals happen successfully around the UK and most places welcome them as a source of revenue and publicity for their area. The really happy ones do condone reasonable live music making after midnight in moderation. .... it could be the beginning of the end.

Our regular folk sessions in South Cheshire canal side hostelries take place with open doors and windows in the Summer, and where musicians and the visiting holidaymakers enjoy live folk music and singing along with many locals to way beyond ‘pumpkin time’ (midnight).

Certainly less troublesome than boy racers screeching round the streets or drunken footie fans on the loose.

In all, these increases in bureaucracy and 'control' are to be seen as yet another manifestation of authorities such as local councils and the police clamping down on 'easy targets' whilst doing little about year-long serious problems. It is also an ongoing part of 'job creation' within the incompetent 'environmental health' departments of local councils, which seem to contain more than their fair share of people who could never hold down a job in the real world! Yet with sound levels at so many festivals being far higher than they need to be - do the organisers have themselves to blame?

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