Bramford: Closure threat for Royal British Legion club in noisy neighbour dispute

BRAMFORD: A noisy neighbour dispute has today left the village’s Royal British Legion club fighting for its survival, a court heard.

Giving evidence during an appeal hearing over a noise abatement notice, Reverend Jenny Seggar, vicar of Bramford, warned if the club folded it would be “another step in a slow death to a village”.

The Bramford branch celebrates its 86th anniversary this year. It resorted to legal action in a bid to save its future after being served with the notice by Mid Suffolk District Council.

South East Suffolk Magistrates Court was told the order was issued following complaints by the club’s next-door neighbours Colin and Rachel Hayward after the noise at the weekends - particularly on Saturday live music nights - became excessive.

Although the club’s committee took advice from an acoustics expert and put in measures to lessen the noise, the order was served in 2010.

Simon Clarke, barrister for the Royal British Legion in The Street, Bramford, said his client had been having live music on Saturdays for around 50 years, along with bingo nights and other events.

The money they brought in went to the upkeep of the club and charities such as the Macmillan Trust, Help for Heroes, and other veteran service personnel charities.

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The court heard the complaints began after the Haywards moved in to the house adjoining the social club in 2008.

Mid Suffolk District Council became involved in March 2010. Despite the club’s efforts to cut down the noise such as additional sound insulation and turning speakers in different directions, the council served the abatement notice in October the same year.

Mr Clarke claimed the order was not justified, its requirements were unnecessary and un-interpretable, and attempts taken to control the effects of the nuisance between May and October 2010 were the best practicable measures.

Yesterday’s hearing was also told the council had not taken the new measures into account before issuing the notice, and that it had offered to pay for sound insulation at the Haywards’ home.

Chairman of Bramford’s Royal British Legion Roy Clover said live music on Saturdays accounted for around �40-�45,000 of its annual turnover of approximately �120,000.

Asked what effect stopping these events would have, Mr Clover said: “It doesn’t bear thinking about. The branch would survive, but the club – unless it was totally run by non-paid volunteers - would have to close.”

District Judge David Cooper adjourned the case and said he would give his judgment at a later date.

AFTER the hearing Rachel and Colin Hayward stressed they both endorsed the work of the Royal British Legion in the village and did not want to see the club close.

However, Mrs Hayward – a mother-of-two – recalled how the noise of the public address system during bingo nights at the club had previously caused noise problems.

She said: “Before they made alterations to the hall we used to be able to sit in our bedroom and hear them call out the numbers. We could have played along if we had wanted to.”

Mrs Hayward added that she and her husband appreciated the club had to raise funds, but felt it could do it by thinking of alternative ways beyond live music.

She said: “Even if the club did the music every other week it would be a vast improvement because at least we could use our garden when the music isn’t on.”

Mr Hayward said: “We have absolutely no problem with the Royal British Legion and its right to raise money. I fully support the legion and what it does at the club.

“However, we want the committee to be a bit more imaginative about the things they do. We were hoping for a bit more sympathy from an organisation that says it is for the community.

“I commute to work in London every day and the only day I have left to enjoy my garden and get a good night’s sleep is Saturday.

“While it has improved you can still hear what’s going on. You really can’t sleep until the music stops.”

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