Decision on pub's licence deferred to next week

The Barley Mow Inn

Niall Austin, landlord of the Barley Mow Inn, Witnesham, was served a notice by East Suffolk Council in November last year after weekly karaoke nights were deemed to be excessively loud - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk landlord has apologised to neighbours over noise disputes as a decision about whether action will be taken against the pub is deferred. 

Niall Austin, landlord of the Barley Mow Inn, Witnesham, was served a notice by East Suffolk Council in November last year after weekly karaoke nights were deemed to be excessively loud.

On Friday, Mr Austin, who is no longer the designated premises supervisor, attended a council licencing sub-committee meeting where a panel reviewed the pub's premises licence. 

A number of residents close to the venue reported to the council sleepless nights and disturbed evenings, with some saying they could hear every word of the music as if it was being played in their living room and bedrooms. 

A neighbour told the meeting: "The fact is that the majority of the neighbours affected have been living there many years, long before the nightclub-style events and long before the landlord took over.

"Many of us were regular patrons with no problem with ad-hoc music.

"It was only when the weekly Witnesham nightclub began that things changed."

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The meeting heard reports of alleged abusive online messages and threats made to neighbours. 

Later, Mr Austin's representation said abusive comments would not be tolerated and guests found doing so could be barred. 

"We want to work with our neighbours," said the representative.

"We want to have them feel comfortable in the pub or, if there are any issues, then to be able to talk to the new DPS or Niall."

The meeting heard Mr Austin has since scaled back the number of karaoke nights, with his representation claiming there have been no complaints since the Jubilee weekend.

The representation for Mr Austin said: "We are very sorry. This is a genuine apology to the residents for the disturbance that was caused. 

"Niall was trying to rejuvenate a pub that was suffering, as all of hospitality suffered during two years of covid. 

"At the start, they were supposed to be just for the people in the village.

"What we say now is that it was a mistake to let that grow to the extent that it did and indeed to let it carry on as it did.

"He accepts this was a very stressful time for the residents and there was no intention of allowing things to go back to the way they were. It was upsetting for everyone.

"We can only apologise."

Neighbours said they had never had an issue with the venue until late July last year, when the pub began the events.

These reportedly soon became dance-style club nights, with locals claiming the venue began advertising itself on Facebook as a 'Witnesham nightclub'.

In addition to the loud music, residents reported they were kept awake much later into the early hours of the morning as customers were heard having loud conversations, screaming foul language, cars revving and horns blowing.

"Between August and November, there were 16 events and, by October, neighbours reasonably started to question whether the noise levels were acceptable so requested the council investigate," said the neighbour.

A decision by the Council on how to proceed will be made within five working days.