Night and Day noise row hearing ends with council accused of 'declaring war' on Manchester night time economy

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It was the latest court appearance relating to a noise abatement notice served in late 2021.

The council has been accused of ‘declaring war on its night time economy’ by ‘threatening to persecute Night and Day to the supreme court’.

The accusation was levelled by barrister Sarah Clover, making her closing arguments after a three-day court case where the Northern Quarter venue is appealing a noise abatement notice served in late 2021. The row stems from complaints made by a neighbouring flat after song lyrics could be heard next door during early hours club nights.

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Ms Clover, representing the venue which opened in 1991, argued that the notice should be ‘quashed’ as it is ‘unjustified’. She was responding to comments from Leo Charalambides, the barrister representing Manchester City Council. Mr Charalambides said the bar was ‘attempting to invite the court to go against centuries of legal tradition and two supreme court judgements’.

Night & Day Cafe in Manchester Night & Day Cafe in Manchester
Night & Day Cafe in Manchester

“If you were to join this shangri-la, we would be taking this case further,” Mr Charalambides said. In his closing submissions, he also offered to amend the noise abatement notice and argued ‘the fact that [Night and Day owner] Jennifer Smithson stamped her feet in the playground and said “we were here first and we are going to do what we have always done” made no difference’ to the case.

That led Ms Clover to condemn her opposite number’s comments. She told District Judge Margaret McCormack: “The threat of the council through their advocate to persecute Night and Day all the way up to the supreme court is noted. What we have just heard is a declaration of war by this council, not just on Night and Day but on the whole of their night time economy at such a desperate time for this industry. That’s a tragedy.”

Ms Clover called the comment that Ms Smithson was ‘stamping her feet’ something which was ‘monstrously unfair’. She argued that the notice was unjustified because ‘the court must find there is a nuisance now or there is a likely nuisance’ to come for it to be valid.

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However, the flat has been vacant since May 2022, and is listed for sale, Ms Clover added. This, combined with the fact that no previous resident had complained since the flat was built in 2000, shows there was no current nuisance and nor was there likely to be one soon, she claimed.

Going further, Ms Clover said that council officers had claimed an acceptable level of noise was found, but not recorded during testing, which was believed to be around 25db in the flat. This, she added, meant that current council planning policy would ‘promote developments which immediately become victim of a nuisance’ as guidelines currently allow for 30db of noise to carry through to next door.

That followed arguments from Mr Charalambides that the judge had ‘a stark choice between the public being able to party as loud as they want against the right to enjoy one’s home’.

“Theres a special importance that should be attached enjoy the right of one’s home,” he told the court. “I am not sure there’s a special importance that should be attached to being able to hear Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This while you try to go to sleep.”

At the close of proceedings, District Judge McCormack indicated that she would reconvene the session to announce her decision, which will be in at least two weeks.

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