Mechu License Restricted

Mechu Summer Row

Mechu on Summer Row has had its license restricted by the Council following a license review brought about by a resident of Islington Gates. The venue will now only be able to serve alcohol until 1am (Sun-Thurs) or 2am (Fri & Sat), with the venue able to stay open for an additional hour. The license had previously allowed Mechu to stay open until 4am.

From the minutes of the meeting: "The Sub-Committee's reasons for imposing these conditions are due to concerns by local residents in relation to noise nuisance and antisocial behaviour."

I wrote some time ago about the noise problems (from people and taxis) suffered by local residents. There were numerous other conditions emposed by the review, including specific taxi instructions and the fitting of a noise limiter at the premises. I'd be interested to know at what level this will be set.

The owners of Mechu have 21 days to appeal.

Click these links to read more about licensing and planning issues in Ladywood ward.


Former TRMNL Building Available

The Hockley Street premises formerly occupied by the TRMNL nightclub is now available for lease from commercial property agency Fleurets.

It's interesting to note the board advertises the premises as a "bar/restaurant", not as a building suitable for a nightclub!

I'll keep a close eye on what happens with this building and if any planning or licensing applications are submitted, I'll do my best to keep all local residents that were affected by TRMNL updated.

The previous tenants did restore much of the inside of this building and I'm keen to see it put to good use. Any budding entrepreneurs considering opening a bar/restaurant could do a lot worse than consider this building!


Nightclub License Application Declined

The premises license application for 89-91 Livery Street has been thrown out by Birmingham City Council. I wrote to residents last month informing them of the application as I was not happy with the signage advertising the application. A large number responded to the Council which led to the application being refused on the grounds of public nuisance. Environmental Health also raised concerns on the impact of the Youth Hostel next door.

Livery Street

Objections Received to Livery Street Nightclub Plans

Following my letter to all nearby residents, the Council has received a large number of objections to the license application for a late night venue at 89-91 livery Street.

The case will be heard by Licensing Sub-Committee B on Tuesday 21st July at the Council House.


License Review for Mechu on Summer Row

As a result of complaints from several residents of Islington Gates on Fleet Street, a license review is underway for Mechu on Summer Row on the grounds of "Public Nuisance". Mechu currently has a 4am license.

"Reason: The club causes a public nusiance in the form of excessive and unnecessary incessant noise from loud amplified music, taxi horns sounding, and noise from patrons leaving the club"

Mechu on Summer Row
Mechu with Islington Gates in the background

Local residents in the Islington Gates development, particularly those in Block A closest to Summer Row, are regularly disturbed at "kicking-out time" by groups of drunken folk singing and screaming whilst waiting for taxis. On occasion these taxis park illegally and tout for business, clogging up the road and creating more noise (honking). This video shot by a resident a few months ago illustrates the issue:

A few months ago the Council held meetings with Mechu, who offered to use one of their employees as an unofficial taxi marshall taking bookings and attempting to stop illegal touting. There was some initial success although the problem seems to have persisted. The Council's licensing officers also pay regular visits to Summer Row which clears up the problem while they're there, but when they're not visible the problem returns.

The taxi issue is not solely down to Mechu of course, with Bluu, Apres and the Shakespeare all on the same strip. So to use taxi noise as a driver for a license review is ropey at best. I would assume the license review will concentrate on the noise from the club and any public order issues caused by patrons leaving the venue, rather than the noise from the taxis.

It also raises the question of how responsible a venue should be for its customers once they have left the premises? If a group of intoxicated ladies stay outside the venue for half-an-hour shouting for cabs or into their phones, who's responsibility is that?

Those eagle-eyed amongst you will note my support for The Rainbow in their battle against a Noise Abatement Order brought on by one resident of the Abacus Apartments in Digbeth. With the Rainbow situation, there is one complainer in a residential block a considerable distance away from the venue, the other side of a major road, apparently disturbed every so often. In this instance Islington Gates is directly opposite the club and numerous residents have consistently been disturbed.

The common argument is the venues were there first, therefore residents should expect noise. This holds true - the residents of Islington Gates were fully away of the bars when they moved in, however since then Summer Row and Mechu in particular has become livelier much later into the night.

So what are the potential solutions?

1) The Mechu license is restricted to 2am. This would ensure the area is free from noise by approximately 2.30am, instead of 4.30am. Perhaps this could be restricted to midnight on weekdays?

2) A signed taxi rank is created on Lionel Street, the other end of Summer Row. The difficulty here is marshalling and preventing illegal taxis from touting for business at the Fleet Street end.

You can comment on the license review by emailing licensing@birmingham.gov.uk before 9th July 2009.


License Application: 89-91 Livery Street

Last week I wrote to all residents local to 89-91 Livery Street to inform them of a license application. The license would be for late night music, dancing and alcohol sales, so effectively it's an application for a nightclub. Opening hours could potentially be until 2am during the week, with Friday and Saturday extended to 4am.

The premises are next to the recently opened Hatters Youth Hostel and very close to large residential blocks. In fact the top floor of the premises overlooks the courtyard of one block!

Despite the presence of Subway City further down the road, this is a quiet residential area and I have no doubt that a nightclub would cause extreme disturbance to local residents, not to mention those staying in the hostel. With the saga that was TRMNL only a recent memory, it's important that the right decision is made early with this application.

I already know of five residents who have written to oppose the application. You can add your views by emailing Birmingham City Council at licensing@birmingham.gov.uk quoting reference 61547. You have until 2nd July.

89-91 Livery Street
89-91 Livery Street

Looking up Livery Street
Looking up Livery Street


The End Of The Rainbow? Part Two

Following on from my previous post regarding the Noise Abatement Order given to the Rainbow in Digbeth.

Last night I attended the official "Rainbow Response" to the Noise Abatement Order. I'd estimate about 300 people were crammed into the pub to hear the statement and with over 20,000 people now supporting the Facebook group, that just goes to show the extent of public feeling about this.

Kent's response was excellent, summarising the current position and giving his thoughts. He confirmed the Rainbow will be appealing the Noise Abatement Order. You can view Pete Ashton's video of Kent's statement here. WARNING: contains swearing!

Rainbow Meeting - Kent Davis from Pete Ashton on Vimeo.

I've also exchanged a few emails with Martin Mullaney about the subject. He's been very open about the latest position on The Stirrer Forum, here's an excerpt:

At the meeting prior to this public meeting, both Clive Dutton, Head of Planning and Regeneration and myself, made it clear to Kent Davies that we want the Rainbow to survive, that we see it as an important part of the culture of Birmingham and that we want to see Digbeth grow as a cultural and creative area.

However, the council has to work within the law. If someone complains about noise, the Council has to investigate. The officers will then have to make a determination as to whether that noise is a statutory nuisance. This will take into account if the noise is a repeat occurrence, what time of day it occurs, what level it is at.

It was also explained that the officers will not be sitting round the corner on 1st August waiting for a minor infringement of noise nuisance. Instead will only respond to complaints....and will again have to make an assessment as to whether it is a statutory nuisance.

The Rainbow - Raise the Roof Festival

So what's next? On 1st August the Rainbow holds its "Raise The Roof" fundraiser, to pay for a new roof on the courtyard. The danger is noise complaints on this day would be a breach of the Noise Abatement Order and could have serious consequences for the venue.

Again, Martin has commented on this:

It was also explained to Kent that there is a level of responsiblity on his part to try to reduce any nuisance from his 1st August event – this would include walking to the Abacus building and listening to the noise level there, using friendly customers in the Abacus building to warn him when the noise levels are getting unacceptable; look at the arrangement of his loudspeakers so the event is not replying on just loudspeakers to fill all of Adderley Street....and finally maybe consider turning down the volume a bit.

Stay tuned for further updates.


The end of the Rainbow?

A matter of hours after blogging about the Live Music bill being proposed by a Lib Dem Lord, news reaches me that The Rainbow in Digbeth has been given a noise abatement order by Birmingham City Council.

This is a real blow to what is a real hotbed of cultural activity - the Rainbow is far more than just a pub. The events are known nationally and the place attracts an incredible mix of international artists and local unknowns.

If this really is off the back of one complaint from a resident of Abacus (which by the way is a fair distance from the Rainbow and the other side of a dual carriageway!) then someone at the Council is making an enormous mistake.

As I write this, the Facebook group set up to support the venue stands a shade short of 19,000 members.

As I wrote yesterday, the issue of city centre residential developments and bars/music venues isn't going to go away, but we have to be sensible about this. The recent closure of TRMNL in the Jewellery Quarter was unfortunate as I felt from a cultural viewpoint the venue was doing great things - but the building was unsuitable, they did not have the correct planning permission and there was a genuine disturbance caused to large numbers of residents. The Council has to take a learning point there from granting a license for unsuitable premises.

There's also a learning point here. In the case of TRMNL there was a groundswell of opposition. In the case of Rainbow, you will struggle to find a single person who thinks closing the venue is the right thing to do.

There is a gathering at the Rainbow at 6.30pm this Friday where the venue will be announcing their next steps.

This morning I will be writing to all the Liberal Democrat councillors I know well to see what can be done to reverse this ludicrous situation.