Phoenix Bar axes live gigs over strict noise rules

Phoenix bar owners Sam Roberts and Gareth Roberts, centre, joined by local musicians. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Phoenix bar owners Sam Roberts and Gareth Roberts, centre, joined by local musicians. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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THOUSANDS of people have signed a petition calling for major changes to strict noise rules, which are “killing Edinburgh’s music scene”.

Owners of the Phoenix Bar, in Broughton Street, said they have been forced to pull the plug on their popular live music after continuous run-ins with council licensing officers over complaints at noise levels.

We have had lots of support on this already from musicians, venues and residents. These rules are killing Edinburgh’s music scene.”

Sam Roberts

Musicians and promoters have previously criticised regulations dictating that amplified music and vocals at venues must be “inaudible” to neighbouring properties.

Sam Roberts, who owns the Phoenix Bar with husband Gordon and father-in-law Gryn, said: “Our live music has been really popular and we have been able to support lots of Edinburgh bands.

“But these regulations mean that no sound can be made at all. We have tried to work with the council and we thought we had sorted out any problems.

“Now we have had to cancel gigs and I have had enough. It is ruining our business.”

More than 2600 people have signed their petition since it was set up last Monday.

The 45-year-old added: “We have had lots of support on this already from musicians, venues and residents. These rules are killing Edinburgh’s music scene.”

Malcolm Binnie, leaseholder of the Barony Bar in the same street, had to change its Sunday music sessions to earlier in the evening to appease a neighbour.

Mr Binnie said: “It’s definitely a widespread problem in the city as I know other venues have had issues.

“If the council could change their guidance so it’s ‘reasonable’ rather than ‘inaudible’ then it would be much better.”

City chiefs have pledged to work with musicians to improve the problem, by setting up the Music is Audible taskforce.

Councillor Norma Austin Hart, leader of the new taskforce, acknowledged there were problems with the system and said the group was trying to find a solution to suit everyone.

She said: “It is a very complex and sensitive situation as Edinburgh has such a traditionally tenemented city centre, which is still intact.

“What we are trying to do in the working group is to understand the situation from both sides of this debate and try to find a way through it.

“I would be happy to meet with the owners of the Phoenix Bar if they would find that helpful. I am very sympathetic to musicians and pubs but the council also has to fulfil its duty by investigating complaints.”

Licensing officers said they had worked with both the pub and the complainants to try to mediate the situation, adding: “Edinburgh is world renowned for its culture and live music contributes to this reputation.

“It’s important that we balance this up with the rights of residents to peace and quiet in their own homes.”

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com