Bramford: Royal British Legion club’s noise notice quashed

A ROYAL British Legion club hit out at a Suffolk council last night after it was forced to spend thousands of pounds successfully quashing a legal order claiming it was making too much noise.

The Bramford RBL club said it had spent huge sums contesting the noise abatement notice, which was brought by Mid Suffolk District Council after neighbours argued its Saturday night fundraising functions were too loud.

Club chairman Roy Clover said the two-year wrangle could have been avoided if the council had helped resolve the situation with their neighbours Colin and Rachel Hayward rather than hand them the notice in October 2010.

The council said it had tried unsuccessfully to make contact with the club on several occasions and was left with “no choice” but to issue the notice.

But Judge District Cooper said the notice had in fact been served three months too late rather than in the seven-day window the law allows, and quashed the decision.

Both sides were told they must cover their own legal costs.

As well as having to pay solicitors fees, the club’s building in The Street, Bramford, has now been sound-proofed at a considerable cost.

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After the hearing at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Clover said he hoped that it was now the end of the stalemate that many had feared would have forced the club, which relies on social events for much of its annual fundraising, to close for good.

He said: “It’s cost us thousands and thousands of pounds. It’s just over two years of hard work and expense and something we could really have done without. I hope everybody sees sense and let’s everybody just get on with it.

“As far as I’m concerned I’m rather upset that there’s one person complaining and 500 members of the community suffer because of one error of judgement (by the council).”

He said the club had received a “phenomenal” amount of support both from across Suffolk and the rest if the UK after the story made national headlines.

The club’s legal representative Richard Tinkler said the judgement showed that the notice had been “void from the start”.

Last night Sue Herne, environmental health officer for Mid Suffolk District Council, said it was “disappointing” that Judge Cooper had dismissed the noise abatement notice on a technicality.

Ms Herne said: “We served the notice on the club on October 5 2010 as we had received complaints from nearby residents about the noise levels during events being run in the evenings and also at weekends.

“Before we served this notice, on a number of occasions we contacted the club to try and work together to reduce these noise levels. After several failed attempts, we had no choice but to serve the noise abatement notice which the British Legion decided to appeal against.

“Since the notice was served, we are aware that the British Legion has undertaken a number of measures to reduce the noise from their events. We hope that the measures that the club has undertaken to reduce the noise levels will continue to make a difference for the nearby residents.”

A spokesman for the council, which has 21 days to lodge an appeal with the High Court, said the cost of the case to the authority was “minimal”.

In his judgement, Judge Cooper sounded a “cautionary note” to the club that it should not regard the quashing of the abatement notice as a “blank cheque allowing them to continue to ignore the undoubted nuisance that has been suffered by the Haywards”.

He also said that Ms Herne and her environmental health colleague Helen Cuffley should feel “no sense of responsibility” for the result and that, in his judgement, they were both “competent, careful and committed” to giving maximum help to the Haywards.

The EADT tried to contact the Haywards last night but they were unavailable.

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