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Letter to the Editor: we are not seeking a carte blanche licence to make unreasonable noise

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Dear Editor,

Following the ‘Save Music at Studio 18’ petition,( now with more than 2,000 signatures),  a group of studio artists and music promoters met with Environmental Health officers and a councillor from Stroud District Council  (SDC) to discuss noise complaints.

The SDC officers explained to us their statutory duties and how they seek to balance the interests of neighbours with Studio 18’s licensed music events. Our position remains that we are not seeking a carte blanche licence to make unreasonable noise – just to be treated fairly, with an evidence backed approach. 

Previously we were made aware of  three complaints received by SDC following an event that was part of the Stroud wide, ‘Pop Up Music and Culture Book Festival’ on the 25th March.

We have had just two events in the last year resulting  in a proportion of complaints described by SDC officers as either,  ‘several’ or ‘a number of complaints’.

Furthermore it seems an assessment of noise levels justifying a complaint remains a subjective. 

It is frustrating that SDC officers are not able to give the exact number of complaints received, or the total number of complaints received over the period we have been organising music events. ‘Several’ refers to two or more, and is a vague and non-specific term which is not very helpful in determining the actual number of complaints. We make these points to illustrate how difficult it is to operate music activities under current legislation.  Its worth noting that all Studio 18 music events are properly licensed, the overwhelming majority have been complaint free and we have had no incidents of anti-social behaviour. 

With regard to the Community Protection Notice, we remain opposed to its use against music promoters and take very seriously its potentially criminal consequences. We questioned the thoroughness of the investigation undertaken by SDC officers before they issued the written warning. We welcomed the assurances  that any future steps to issue a full-blown Community Protection Notice against Studio 18, would involve robust evidence-gathering measures. This would include determining  exact levels of noise, and the ‘reasonableness’ of the noise being created. We also welcomed assurances that malicious or vexatious complaints are identified and discounted as an anonymous note stirring up anti-Studio 18 sentiments had been previously circulated to local residents.  

For our part we want to be good neighbours. We will produce a Noise Mitigation Policy which will help us to identify, and take steps to limit the leakage of noise from music events. We look forward to working with SDC officers on this.   

To enable us to afford to fit sound proofing measures we will be organising a fund-raising  event – ‘Sssshh! Help Keep Studio 18 Quiet!  We will be announcing details of the event very soon. Any live bands, DJs, performers, or poets who would like to be involved please get in touch at eventsatstudio18@gmail.com 

We would like to build on the good relationship we have with many in the local community  by inviting all local residents to an Open Day on May 13th between 1 – 3pm. This will be an opportunity  to have a look around Studio 18 and talk to the artists involved. There will also be the opportunity to view an exhibition and the set-up of an audio, visual and arts event organised by local young artists which will take place later that day. Hopefully, local residents will gain a better understanding of what Studio 18 is trying to achieve. This will also be an opportunity to talk directly about any concerns residents or business neighbours may have. We have already responded to concerns raised about the security of other business units by installing gates to the Studio 18 entrance. Access to Studio 18 is now via the canal tow-path only, with disabled access available if required. 

We look forward to welcoming everybody to Studio 18 on the Open Day, and at our events, whether they be an art exhibition, music or any other type of performance.   

Finally, may we use your pages to express our gratitude for the overwhelming support Studio 18 has received in the last few weeks. We are absolutely blown away!

Yours sincerely,

Zac Walsh, Jagdish Patel, Josh Sterckx

The Studio 18 Team

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