Environmental health officials raise noise objections to Bedford Park Concerts

Judge Jules and the crowd at Cafe Mambo at Bedford Park Concerts 2019. Credit Peter Hayes
Judge Jules and the crowd at Cafe Mambo at Bedford Park Concerts 2019. Credit Peter Hayes

Environmental health officers have proposed noise limits to next summer’s Bedford Park Concerts that the organisers say could stop them happening.

Bedford Borough Council’s licensing sub-committee is due to decide what to do “within five working days” after a hearing was held on Wednesday morning.

Katherine Painter the council’s team leader for heath, safety and licensing told the sub-committee of three councillors that they wanted a “precautionary approach” to protect residents.

However, organisers pointed out that complaints for previous concerts had been “reduced to nil”.

The concerts have been taking place in Bedford Park for 25 years, with this year’s event cancelled because of covid.

Read: Coronavirus forces Bedford Park Concerts to cancel summer gigs

But Simon Taylor, speaking for the applicants, LPH Concerts & Events, said: “What is being proposed by the environmental health service would actually prevent our event taking place.

“If we were limited to four events at the background noise level plus 15 decibels we could not hold the event.”

The sub committee was called to decide the issue after the organisers and the environmental health team could not reach a compromise.

A difference in opinion hinges on an interpretation of the code of practice for music events.

Council officers say because the event has increased from three days to four days, all four days have to be at a lower noise level.

But the organisers say they want to hold three events with a noise limit similar to previous years, dropping down to the lower limit for the Proms on the fourth day

The organisers are already promoting the event for an Olly Murs concert on 29 July, Cafe Mambo on 30 July, and the Bedford Park Proms on 1 August.

The act for Saturday 31 July is still to be announced.

Read: Olly Murs to kick off next summer’s Bedford Park Concerts

Ms Painter told the committee the council supports music and the concerts in Bedford Park but the growth to four concerts meant that there would be the risk of noise nuisance to nearby residents.

“The environmental health service feels that for a fourth day residents need an enhanced level of protection.”

But Mr Taylor said at sound levels proposed, people would not be able to hear the music, and musicians would not sign up.

He argued if such restrictions were imposed on other outdoor music concerts, including at Wembley Stadium, and Hyde Park, they would not be able to go ahead.

He told the sub-committee that the differences of opinion between the applicants and the environmental health team had narrowed.

But the crucial gap remained.

And he added that the increase in days was a “very modest request” because the Sunday proms concert would start at 4pm and finish at 10.30pm and be at a lower sound level.

The YouTube public meeting was switched off to allow councillors to go into a huddle.

Unlike their neighbours at Milton Keynes Council, Bedford Council does not reconvene a live meeting.

Instead, the sub-committee chairman, Cllr Sarah Gallagher (Lib Dem, Eastcotts ward) said a decision notice would be placed on the council’s website “within five working days”.

By David Tooley
Local Democracy Reporter with
additional wording by Paul Hutchinson

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