This is what Northowram neighbours had to do to drown out village pub's noise

22 Bar and Smokehouse, Northowram.
22 Bar and Smokehouse, Northowram.

Music from a Halifax village venue is so loud one neighbour said he could only watch certain, noisier, types of television programmes on a Saturday night.

Anything quieter was drowned out by the drum and bass of recorded music being played inside 22 Bar and Smokehouse, Northowram.

He was one of a number giving evidence to Calderdale Council’s Licensing Sub-committee which was considering an application from West Yorkshire Police to review the premises licence held by Narinder Singh for 22 Bar and Smokehouse at Victoria Place in the village.

The resident said when recorded music was being played in the bar he had to stop watching quieter programmes and turn to noisier fare such as action thrillers because the bass and drums could be heard above his television even when his double-glazed windows were closed.

In a hot summer like this neighbours were facing the dilemma of putting up with the noise if they opened windows or suffering in a sweatbox otherwise, councillors heard.

They heard that Mr Singh had responded to complaints by making some improvements and there was no wish to close the venue down, but it was felt a reduction in opening hours would help problems.

The sub-committee agreed with residents and the police and the venue’s licence for live music outdoors has been removed and its recorded music licence for indoors limited to a midnight finish Mondays to Saturdays, an hour and a half earlier than previously on Saturdays and an hour earlier than the rest of the week, and 11pm on Sundays, two hours earlier than previously.

In line with this the Smokehouse’s late night refreshment (indoors and outdoors) licence has also been altered to end at midnight, Monday, to Saturday, and 11pm on Sundays.

Its licence to sell alcohol on the premises now also ends at midnight, Mondays to Saturdays, and 11pm on Sundays, and its opening hours will now also finish at midnight and 11pm respectively (the Sunday alcohol on-premises sales and finishing times are as previously).

Police had applied for the review, recommending hours be reduced, following a series of complaints and in respect of two of four licensing objectives, public safety and prevention of public nuisance – reasons challenged by Mr Singh’s representation.

They said the owners had met with them and action had been taken but problems remained to be sorted out.

A number of objectors, and ward councillor Peter Caffrey (Con, Northowram and Shelf), spoke at the meeting and outlined complaints including late night noise, rowdyism, fights, vandalism, people congregating outside the venue late in early hours and cars and taxis screeching in and out.

Several said they had lived next to the bar for long periods of time, including its previous existence as the Queen Victoria pub and knew they were moving next to licensed premises thus expecting some noise, but since its new incarnation under Mr Singh as 22 Bar and Smokehouse problems had arisen that were not there before.

One said: “It is affecting the lives of people who live in the surrounding area, the families and the children.”

Another said weekend had become “a constant dread” and watching quiet dramas and documentaries impossible as they were drowned out.

“It’s not only the stress of living next to it. There’s no respite; it’s every weekend. Do I go to bed early and hope to sleep or risk it later? Reduce the pub’s licensing hours and give us our lives back,” they said.

A third said he had seen swearing, fighting and people urinating outside and cars coming and going through the early hours of the morning.

Even triple glazing had not kept the noise out.

Mr Singh said he already owned a restaurant close by which he had successfully run for ten years and took over the new premises with no objections, investing £250,000 into it.

Bottles were not left outside with the immediate area cleaned up quickly and issues clamped down on, for example changing door security to a firm which was more effective. Seventy people were employed in the business and reducing hours would effect it detrimentally, he said.

Mr Singh said he appreciated concerns had been raised and worked towards solving issues, with a commitment to the village.

“I see myself as a part of the community. I don’t see myself as separate. I think I am a responsible person.”

Changes were being made. “These are measures we are taking that will cost but if it alleviates the issue it will be done,” he said.

His legal representative said in terms of the licensing objectives issues with congregating and traffic were outside of the licence holder’s control and to reduce opening hours at weekend would be “draconian”, causing problems in itself by compressing drinking into a shorter space of time and likely seeing everyone leave the premises – which were on a main road – at once.

Some nuisance was an element of all sorts of commercial premises and issues such as drivers’ behaviour were not licensing concerns but police matters if vehicles were used irresponsibly, he said. Noise problems had been exacerbated because of the long, hot summer.

Mr Singh was a responsible operator of licensed premises – the sub-committee was not being presented with lots of breaches of licensing laws, he added.