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Noise restrictions lifted on music being played live in Edinburgh streets

Following protests from local musicians and venue owners, the Edinburgh licensing board has voted to reduce noise restrictions on amplified live music in the city.

Prior to the vote, guidelines specified that amplified music must be “inaudible from neighbouring properties”. The updated clause will now stipulate that music “shall not be an audible nuisance” in nearby residential areas.

According to Councillor Eric Milligan, convener of the Edinburgh licensing board, members determined that the old wording “impacts unfairly” upon the city’s musicians.

“A capital city like Edinburgh must try to reconcile the different needs and opinions of all the people who together make our city economically strong, culturally strong, a place where people want to live, work, study, and play”, Milligan said in an email statement to The Student.

Meanwhile, supporters of the old guideline argued that the restrictions should remain in place to be fair to residents living in areas that may be affected by the noise.

In a document released by the Morningside Community Council this past May, a representative from the New Town and Broughton Community Council defended the old requirement, calling the revised restrictions “far too subjective” to protect the interests of locals.

Musicians and venue owners, however, claimed that the inaudibility requirement was limiting the city’s music scene.

44 per cent of musicians surveyed in the 2015 Edinburgh Live Music Census felt that noise restrictions had affected their shows, while local hip hop group Young Fathers has criticised Edinburgh’s noise restrictions as ‘draconian’, The Scotsman reported.

Will Robinson, a fourth year English Literature student and president of the University’s Untapped Talent society, which assists musicians in forming bands and playing live gigs, expressed a similar sentiment.

Speaking to The Student, Robinson said: “Edinburgh has a very vibrant music scene, especially amongst local bands and artists.

“However, early cut-off times and the anxiety that the restrictions cause for sound technicians, event organisers, venue owners and artists have been stifling grassroots creative output in the city for a long time.”

Robinson continued: “We hope that the relaxation on the noise restrictions will ultimately encourage more performers to get out there and come up with new and exciting ideas about the kind of vibrant future we all want for the city’s nightlife.”

Postgraduate Criminology student, Julia Zauner, stated that she does not find central Edinburgh to be particularly noisy, and feels that sound restrictions are “reasonable to relax to an extent”, particularly before midnight and on weekends.

James Clark, a first year Civil Engineering student, also commented on the restrictions. He remarked: “I can understand [the noise] is annoying if you live in the [city] centre, but I think that people should be able to enjoy music within reason.”

Local organisation Music is Audible has championed for this new wording since the group’s inception in 2014, following a Live Music Matters meeting for those in the local community.

In an opinion piece published in The Scotsman earlier this month, Nick Stewart, a member of the organisation and owner of Sneaky Pete’s nightclub, wrote: “You can’t have music in silence.”

“There needs to be a balance between the needs of residents to have quiet enjoyment of their properties, and those who want to enjoy music in the city”, Stewart’s article continued.

“That is exactly what our proposed change to the legislation seeks.”

Following the licensing board’s vote, Music is Audible shared the results on their Facebook page, coupled with a brief statement stating: “Hard won. But, won nonetheless.”

Image: byronv2

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