Neighbours who made made complaint against Manchester’s Night & Day speak out in court

Tim Burgess DJs at Night & Day

The partner of the man whose noise complaint against Manchester’s Night & Day venue is posing a threat to its closure has told a court that he’s become a “recluse”.

Claiming that he’s also lost 30kg due to stress, the partner added that press attention on them had left them feeling “uncomfortable” and comments about the pair on social media were “threatening”.

In November 2021 a fresh noise abatement order issued by Manchester city council to the venue in response to a complaint by a nearby resident put the establishment under renewed threat of closure. The legendary music spot has been at risk previously, and in 2014 was saved after a hard-fought battle against another noise complaint.

However, the council clarified previously that a noise abatement order does not equate to a threat of shuttering the venue. “It must be made explicitly clear from the outset that the Council has never threatened to close down this venue, nor is there any legislation which would allow a Noise Abatement Notice to be used to close a premises,” a council spokesperson said.

Night & Day
Manchester’s Night & Day. Credit: Ben Smithson.

Amid months of petitioning and fundraising for the venue and messages of support from acts local to or with strong connections to Manchester including Elbow’s Guy Garvey and The 1975’s Matty Healy doing the rounds, Night & Day remains in danger of closure due to a planning file for the redevelopment of a nearby building.

The owners of Night & Day have claimed that a “crucial acoustic report had not been provided, nor acoustic works completed to the development before it was occupied”, while the council refuted that a report wasn’t issued, adding that it “completely rejects any suggestion that planning conditions were not met”. It has since lead to a court case that opened on Tuesday (November 29).

Yesterday (November 30), The Guardian reported that the partner of the noise complainant said the following in Manchester magistrates court: “It wasn’t sustainable to live there any more with the noise. After the [noise abatement] notice was served, the media made us feel very uncomfortable in Manchester. We would see hundreds of comments on social media that were very threatening.”

The couple moved into their home during one of the COVID lockdowns and first submitted a complaint when the venue reopened in summer 2021.

The complainant’s partner said that they had borrowed £11,000 to install soundproofing and raise the living room floor to stop vibrations from the venue resounding through their furniture. He added they had moved out of their property in May of this year due to the situation.

Council officers who served Night & Day with the notice also spoke in court yesterday.

They admitted that they had no contemporaneous notes or records from November 13, 2021 when they issued Night & Day with the noise abatement order but they have notes and records for every other visit made to the complainant’s premises.

In addition, they said that they were unaware of previous actions taken against Night & Day (in 2005 and 2014) nor a planning document from 2000 from the residential block in question where it says a noise level of 35 decibels is acceptable.

As The Guardian reports further, an acoustic expert measured noise levels by the decks in the venue, which is the the loudest point in the room, and said that he recorded 33 decibels.

One council official said that in the early hours of November 13, 2021, she could hear the lyrics of ‘Sweet Dreams’ by Eurythmics in the complainant’s bedroom. Officials are in agreement that “excessive noise” is a subjective matter, however, one official said that they “define excessive as beyond the normal”.

Night & Day
A gig at Manchester’s Night & Day. Credit: Ben Smithson.

Jennifer Smithson, co-owner of Night & Day, told the court on the opening day on Tuesday that it was “absolutely terrifying” that her business could be taken away from her.

“It’s had a huge impact because this is my family business. I’ve grown up with this business since the age of 12. I’ve worked at this business for 17 years. It’s absolutely terrifying that it’s now going to be taken from me,” she said.

“I’m in shock. I can’t understand why the council thinks Night & Day have done something wrong.

“We’re running our business in the same way for 31 years and I thought the council would be really proud of what we’ve done for the city of Manchester.”

The venue’s representative, Sarah Clover, added that the potential closure is a “national scandal,” going on to call Manchester Council the “poster child” for such decisions.

Since Night & Day received the complaints in 2005 and 2014 owners have deployed sound mitigation techniques and have held quarterly meetings with nearby residents. No local residents appeared at the most recent three meetings.

At the time of the 2021 noise complaint the venue’s petition received tens of thousands of signatures and support from the likes of Johnny Marr, New OrderCourteenersFrank Turner and Mogwai, as well as the network of the UK’s grassroots music venues.

Tim Burgess
Tim Burgess CREDIT: Cat Stevens

The CharlatansTim Burgess, who was instrumental in saving Manchester’s Gorilla and Deaf Institute through the pandemic, told NME why it was essential to fight back against this complaint.

“Music venues are essential for our nighttime economy and for the development of artists who will then tour the world and sell millions of records – they are vital for our towns and cities,” Burgess told NME. “Years and even decades after they opened, people are moving nearby and complaining about the noise. We need to get a grip of this daft situation. And it’s not just music venues – record shops are facing the same issue.

“The joke being that these city centre residents are often the ones showing off to their friends about the culture that surrounds them. We need to support our live music venues, not threaten them with closure.”

A decision on Night & Day is expected in January next year.

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