Q&A: Checking amplified music and noise levels

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Engaging with the local authorities is key in overcoming noise complaints
Engaging with the local authorities is key in overcoming noise complaints

Related tags: Local authority, Assessment, Risk assessment, Sound

This week's Q&A looks at the laws governing fire risk assessments and dealing with noise complaints.

Q: A local resident has come into our premises and complained about the noise levels of our amplified music. They are threatening to report us to the local authority. What should we do?​ 

A: In these situations it is always best to try to work with local residents in order to come to a solution, without the need for them to involve the local authority environmental health team.

If they have taken the trouble to come and report the issue to you, the least you can do is acknowledge this and arrange to meet up with them to discuss their concerns. Look at your premises licence and check if there are any conditions relating to sound levels. If there are, check you are operating inside of those of levels.

If you aren’t, you would be in breach of your premises licence and likely causing a statutory nuisance if those levels have been previously deemed acceptable.

Review your sound system; does it have a noise limiter? If so, is it set correctly? Engage with the resident and encourage a dialogue – often a one-off event can cause an issue, which then spirals out of control. 

You could draw on the expertise of a sound acoustician, who can help you ensure your sound levels are not causing a nuisance and, if required, suggest any sound proofing or noise elimination techniques that could be used. 

If the resident does report the noise level to the local authority, the same approach should be taken. Engage with the local authority as they will make a subjective assessment of whether any noise heard at the resident’s property equates to a noise nuisance. It is unlikely the resident will be going anywhere anytime soon, so keeping relations amicable and cooperating with them often allows for a smooth and sustained resolution that all parties are happy with. 

Q: Do I need to carry out a new fire risk assessment at the pub I’ve just taken over?​ 

A: All licensed premises are required to have a fire risk assessment by law.

This needs to be carried out by a responsible person, and should be tailored to the specific premises. All staff should be given training in relation to the risks identified and any mitigation that is put in place.

The fire risk assessment should be updated regularly to assess whether any of those risks or mitigation measures need updating. 

We would recommend an annual review of this risk assessment. If regular reviews are not carried out, you are at risk of committing a criminal offence. This could result in an unlimited fine, which could be thousands of pounds. 

Don’t rely on a previous risk assessment carried out by the previous owner. There is no guarantee that this was compliant with the required legislation, and a change in operation would likely render it out of date and in need of review.

Related topics: Licensing law

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