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Victory for neighbours over noisy bar

A Gosport bar and restaurant proprietor who repeatedly ignored a ban on loud music has been told by magistrates to pay more than £10,000. 

Ben Bartrip, of the Victualler in Royal Clarence Yard, was served a noise abatement notice by Gosport Borough Council last June following complaints from nearby residents over the previous six months. 

The notice was served after an environmental health officer visited a nearby house at 8.50pm on 10 June, in response to a complaint about a band playing outside. With the resident's doors and windows shut, song lyrics could be heard. The window panes were vibrating. 

Despite the notice, loud music continued to disturb neighbours. 

On 26 August last year a singer with a guitar was performing in a marquee outside the bar. An officer visiting in response to a complaint could make out the words of the songs above the resident’s TV. 

The following day, just after 9pm, an officer visited a nearby block of flats in response to a complaint, and could hear the bass from a live band reverberating through the building. 

After midnight on 1 October, an officer visited a neighbour who had complained about a disco outside the premises. The music seemed loud enough to prevent someone sleeping. 

On 4 November, after another complaint, an officer visited a nearby block of flats and could hear constant thudding and bass from the bar below. He described it as like being backstage at a gig. 

Bartrip, 42, of Weevil Lane, Gosport, denied four breaches of a noise abatement notice. But he was found guilty of all of them after a trial at Portsmouth Magistrates Court this week. 

He was told to pay £4,000 in fines, £6,027 in prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £100.

Planning decision upheld 

The action over noise is the latest in a series of enforcement actions the council has had to take involving the Victualler. 

Last December the Crown Court fined 88 75 Ltd, the company running the premises, £20,000 for failing to comply with a planning enforcement notice from the council. 

The notice ordered the removal of outside seating for about 150 people. It was issued after the company ignored a refusal of planning permission for the seating. 

Permission had been refused because of the noise and disturbance that would be suffered by nearby residents, and because the seating was out of keeping in a historic area. 

The bar proprietor appealed against the refusal of planning permission, but last week an independent government inspector ruled the council had been right to refuse it. 

The inspector said the seating would harm the settings of nearby listed buildings and the character and appearance of the conservation area. It would also unacceptably harm the living conditions of nearby residents. Because the seating could be used outside opening hours, it could lead to noise and disturbance even when the bar was closed. 

The seating was removed late last year. 

Cllr Mark Hook, Leader of the Council, said: "The council prefers to work with businesses rather than take legal action. 

"But we have to protect the historic buildings of Gosport, and we have to protect residents whose lives are affected by excessive noise. 

"The actions we took in this case followed repeated disregard of rules that most businesses follow without any problem – rules designed to preserve our heritage and enable people to enjoy their home lives in peace. 

"I'm glad the courts, and a government inspector, have agreed with us."

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