Decision day nears for village pub over karaoke noise complaints

Barley Mow Inn

The Barley Mow Inn, Witnesham, is facing the threat of closure following a number of noise complaints from neighbours - Credit: Google Maps

A Grade-II listed Suffolk pub is facing the threat of closure following a number of noise complaints from neighbours. 

The Barley Mow Inn, Witnesham, was served an abatement notice by East Suffolk Council on November 23 last year following concerns from neighbours over the venue's karaoke nights.

Niall Austin, landlord of the pub, said: "We only have karaoke on special occasions such as Christmas, Easter and weddings. 

"And even then, it's always inside. 

"But we keep getting complaints from neighbours so now the Council are trying to revoke our premises license, which would ultimately shut the pub."

An abatement notice can mean noise has to be stopped altogether or limited to certain times of the day.

Failure to do so could result in a licence being revoked or a fine of up to £20,000.

"We've been having music once a month", he said. 

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"And the abatement notice didn't say we couldn't have music anymore. 

"But the fact is they [the council] are still getting complaints. 

"If somebody makes a complaint, then you're considered a nuisance.

"There's no leeway on that."

Mr Austin claims the pub has done everything possible to reduce the noise, including extensive soundproofing. 

However, the age of the building has proved to be an obstacle.

"With us being a 15th century building, we can't change the windows. 

"But we've done everything else we possibly can."

A decision from the council will be made on Friday, August 5. 

However, Mr Austin said he plans to appeal the decision if he is unhappy.

"If we get the premises licence removed then we'll have to close. 

"But we'll fight it out because we'd lose our business and our staff would all lose their jobs. 

"Since covid, landlords have had to up the entertainment to get people back in - this includes karaoke. 

"The majority of people love it, including a number of those who come from Ipswich because they don't feel safe in the town. 

"Unfortunately, it's a small percentage who are ruining it for everyone else."

On the incident, an East Suffolk Council spokesman said: “These premises are scheduled to be the subject of a licensing review hearing in the near future, hence it would not be appropriate for us to comment.”