Blues bar gets green light in Bury

A MUSICIAN fighting to open a controversial blues bar in the heart of a market town declared "justice has prevailed" after winning a long battle with neighbouring residents.

A MUSICIAN fighting to open a controversial blues bar in the heart of a market town declared "justice has prevailed" after winning a long battle with neighbouring residents.

Sarah Maris, who masterminded the scheme for Bury St Edmunds, said yesterday her opponents had "nothing to fear" from the project, which she said would boost the local economy by attracting more custom to the town.

But residents living in Churchgate Street - where the bar will be located - say they had received "no significant reassurances" regarding noise and still fear those leaving the premises will add to late-night disturbance caused by pub-goers in the area.

The go-ahead for the venue, to be named Dusters, was given by the planning committee at St Edmundsbury Borough Council yesterday .

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Members who originally rejected the scheme in November, saying an area of predominantly residential use would suffer from the noise caused by a business, performed a U-turn to vote in favour of the proposal.

A delighted Mrs Maris, who will soundproof the bar, says she now hopes to work with local people to gain their trust, adding that she never had any intentions of causing any upset.

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"Justice has prevailed. If the businesses surrounding the site have the right to be there, then so do I," said Mrs Maris, who masterminded the idea following the death of her husband Roger.

"This will be an upmarket, classy venue full of like-minded citizens, the majority being over 30 and probably hard-working professionals or possibly enjoying retirement.

"It will be a 'members-only' club where people can go to relax and enjoy the company of colleagues and friends while tapping their feet to music performed live by musicians. All of this will be provided in a protected environment with a top-class service.

"It is an unfair and ridiculous assumption that this would exacerbate existing problems in the street.

"The mere presence of a more mature clientele of respected and civilised people can only help to control any youthful rowdiness."

But Andrew Hinchley, a committee member with the Churchgate Area Association, said locals were "extremely disappointed" with the council's decision, fearing people leaving the bar would cause massive disturbance.

"It still leaves us with clear concerns and we were given no significant reassurances," he said. "We are not necessarily saying this will lead to anti-social behaviour, but any group of 100 pouring out of a club at midnight will cause considerable noise.

"At the moment, most people who want to go to bed at 11.30pm can be reasonably sure they will get to sleep and stay asleep. This will add up to an hour to that time, which is quite a consideration.

"I would be surprised if you would find that sort of club with late night opening in such a residential area in any other town in the borough.

"Noise levels have increased over the years. We made the choice to live near the town centre and accept a certain amount of noise, but there comes a point when enough is enough."

But Mrs Maris, who will start work on the bar as soon as possible but must gain a public entertainment licence before it can open, appealed to be given a chance.

"There really is nothing for the local residents to fear," she added. "I have got an enormous sense of community spirit and do not want to upset anybody."

And Gerald Travers, who supported the application, said: "For too long our town has been starved of quality venues and quality music. At last this is a chance to appreciate class music without having to travel to other towns."

The bar will open between 5.30pm and 11.20pm on weekdays, remaining open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

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