Manchester Evening News

Noise row at bar back in court

- @MENnewsdes­k

A SENIOR council officer has been accused of adopting a “my way or the highway” attitude in the Night and Day bar noise row.

The venue is currently in court with Manchester City Council over a noise abatement notice served on the Northern Quarter bar in 2021.

The two parties have previously been in court three times since the notice was served, with the most recent hearings taking place last March and resulting in a deal to conduct more acoustic testing.

That testing proved fruitless as the basis for a solution, but was the source of legal arguments at Manchester Magistrate­s Court yesterday. During the occasional­ly ill-tempered proceeding­s, Night and Day’s barrister accused a senior council officer of having an inflexible approach to bringing the saga to an end.

Angela Whitehead, the council’s strategic lead for compliance and enforcemen­t, said: “The operators are quite clear it’s the council’s fault or the residents’ fault and they do not need to change.”

“That’s wrong and bordering on dishonest,” barrister Sarah Clover replied. “The efforts to find a solution [in this case] have bordered on Herculean.”

“It’s not dishonest,” Mrs Whitehead countered. “There’s a difference between us trying to abate the nuisance and them saying they want to operate at [a given noise level]. The two are very far apart, but the operator does not want to keep to that [abatement level].”

Ms Clover interjecte­d: “Which is the same thing as saying ‘it’s my way or the highway.’”

Mrs Whitehead denied that was the case, insisting it was the council’s duty to serve a noise abatement notice and find a solution.

Later, Ms Clover repeatedly asked the witness what she was “asking the court to do”. The officer replied: “We are asking them to vary the noise abatement notice to a level agreed.”

When asked who would be involved in agreeing to that level, given the years of out-of-court testing and negotiatio­ns, Mrs Whitehead answered that it could be ‘imposed’ by the authority as her team ‘just wanted to set a level to abate the nuisance.’

Pressed again on how the court case would assist in that and what the level is, Mrs Whitehead said: “We either go back in there with a sound level meter or we go back in with a limiter with those levels.

“When you set a noise level you do not usually stand in [the venue] with an acousticia­n. You rely on a number that you are happy with.”

She went on: “I found the ‘holy grail’ in December because we found a level that was abated.

“We did not measure it because we were not there to assess it and the sound meter was no longer there. I found a level I believe the venue can operate at.”

Ms Clover then said: “So you are asking the court to disregard Night and Day’s evidence, the evidence of [Night and Day-appointed expert] Peter Rogers, and to go with your personal opinion on a commercial­ly viable level based on what you think it reasonable at 10am on a December morning?”

“It’s my profession­al opinion,” Mrs Whitehead replied. “It’s what we do when we make an assessment.”

Ultimately, the three-day hearing is set to have the final say on the noise abatement notice, with judge Margaret McCormack beginning proceeding­s by saying: “It’s very disappoint­ing that we are here again. We have been able to get a resolution on this matter so it’s going to be decided by the court.”

● The case continues.

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