Battles between live music and local councils are an unfortunate yet common place occurrence across Australia.
Whether it’s Perth’s Claremont Council ongoing grievances with music festivals in the WA capital (latest bugbear: Big Day Out), or Sydney officials telling residents they need to be more forgiving of neighbouring live music hotspots following a year that saw noise complaints and costly legal battles threaten the city’s Annandale Hotel and even a political clash over Playbar.
The issue once again came to a head in Melbourne last week, when Collingwood’s Bendigo Hotel was the target of complaints from residents over the venue’s 300 capacity band room, though it was eventually rescued from a hearing with VCAT thanks to last-minute intervention, in the wake of the the incident comes a plan from local council that is looking to help live music rather than hinder.
In light of the Bendigo Hotel’s issues, representatives of City Of Yarra Council are eyeing plans to help live music venues pay for costly sound proofing as part of a new proposal, as The Herald Sun reports.
The motion to aide the cost of containing volume limits comes from Labor councillor Simon Huggins, with an aim to stem venues coming under fire from noise complaints and avoiding sticky legal complaints and court battles entirely.
“Venues are often dealing with old buildings and large costs for sound muffling. I want to set up a program for established venues to assist them make necessary modifications,” Cr Huggins said.
The Councillor has also emphasised the importance of nurturing the vibrancy of the City of Yarra’s culture and the many live music venues situated within its borders, including The Tote, Corner Hotel, Old Bar (and the many more that featured in the Leaps And Bounds festival earlier this year). “Venues are often dealing [with] large costs for sound muffling. I want to set up a program for established venues to assist them…”
The Councillor will bring the motion to his constituents at a future meeting with details on the scheme’s budget still to be determined.
Cr Huggins will definitely find support in fellow City of Yarra representative Stephen Jolly, one of the “2 legends”, in the words of the Bendigo Hotel, “[that] made it possible for the VCAT hearing to be stopped” over the sound dispute surrounding the venue last week.
After learning of the Bendigo Hotel’s plight, Huggins and Jolly helped broker 11th hour meetings between the Bendigo Hotel’s owner, Guy Palermo, and council that helped postpone the VCAT hearing while City of Yarra worked with the venue to find a solution.
Mr Palermo, indicated he’d spent up to $10,000 on soundproofing for The Bendigo Hotel after it was accused of breaching EPA noise guidelines and the subject of 14 noise complaints in the past year, according to City Of Yarra Mayor Jackie Fristacky.
Cr Jolly explained that the volume breaches were due to ‘guest bands’ using their own live equipment that did not satisfy the sound levels that Palermo says he so diligently checked.
“The issue was, when [The Bendigo Hotel] used their own equipment they kept to sound levels,” Jolly said, “but when other bands came in with their own equipment they sometimes went a bit over the top – so it’s easily fixed.”
The councillor also noted “I was really angry with the council bureaucrats because they’d rushed to VCAT… taking the Bendigo Hotel and putting it at risk of closure without telling any of the councillors, without any discussion within the organisation.”
The costs placed on Melbourne music venues was also spotlighted earlier this year by Music Victoria when a commissioned report uncovered that outdated Building Codes were costing venue operators millions of dollars in order to satisfy legislative red tape and regulation compliances.