Capital policy is hurting live music

Edinburgh venue launches online petition to lobby board for change

By Dave Hunter

• Live music in the capital is at risk, said Sam Roberts of The Phoenix.
• Live music in the capital is at risk, said Sam Roberts of The Phoenix.

EDINBURGH’S licensing policy is “killing” the city’s live music scene, according to a capital licensee.
Sam Roberts, who co-owns The Phoenix Bar on Broughton Street with husband Gareth, claims the current policy, which requires any amplified music to be ‘inaudible’ in neighbouring residential properties, has had a “devastating” impact on the bar’s finances, as complaints from a single neighbouring property have resulted in The Phoenix having to cancel gigs, stop pub quizzes and even turn off its jukebox.
The owners have now taken the decision to stop hosting live music, and launched an online petition to encourage the licensing board to wipe the ‘inaudible’ term from the policy.
The petition has so far drawn more than 3000 signatures from the UK and overseas.
“We had lots of meetings with the LSOs and they’ve been really helpful, they’ve done what they can do within the law,” said Sam.
“They’ve tried to mediate and we’ve tried to find a nice neutral ground where we can all sit happily.
“However, over an 18 month period we’ve disconnected speakers, we’ve moved bands around the pub to different areas and tried to do everything we could to solve the problem, but to no avail.
“It’s all down to this clause in the policy that talks about ‘inaudibility’.
“At what point is your life ever ‘inaudible’? There’s got to be a level of noise that can be tolerated. It’s just that one word, and the council could literally do something about this tomorrow.”
Edinburgh City Council has formed a working group called Music Is Audible, which is in the process of investigating whether the policy should be changed.
A spokeswoman said: “From our Live Music Matters review on November 17, we know musicians and live music venue owners have strong perceptions around the council’s noise licensing.
“That is why we have now set up a working group, called Music Is Audible, to look into how we as a council implement noise controls and how we could do things differently.”