Chris Jones, a businessman in Shropshire, England, accused the Shropshire Council of imposing an “elitist rule” on musical choices, ageism, and racism after he was told not be play amplified reggae music in St. Anne’s Church in Lea Cross, near Shrewsbury. Jones, who keeps the church and owns the Albion Vaults pub in Shrewsbury, reported that the council took action against him after two church events in 2020 in which drum and bass and reggae music were featured.
An appeal hearing held at Telford Magistrates Court concluded with the court being adjourned so the council could suggest things Jones could do to prevent future problems. Jones said he would be glad to do this, but then noted that rather than set a “measurable sound limit an agreed distance from the building” the council sent him an email with a vague requirement that prohibited him from playing certain kinds of music.
In the email, the council wrote, “From our point of view it is likely that any amplified dance music, reggae, trance or similar music played at the church is likely to create a noise nuisance. This is because this type of music or event will be played at high volume that would be likely to travel easily into nearby premises.”
Jones, surprised at the message, believes it was inappropriate as it targets a meeting place designed for the use of people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. He added that such an “elitist rule” prohibiting certain musical styles was “daft.” The ruling of the council could impact his plans to have The Wurzels, a comedy folk band, perform at the church. Jones questions if he is supposed to tell them they can’t play reggae or dance music and whether his friend who plays in a reggae band, who has cancer, and wants to have a wake in St. Anne’s can’t have the music he loves played by his friends on that occasion.
According to Gwilym Butler, a Shropshire councilor and cabinet member of regulatory services, there will be no comment from the council on the issue as proceedings continue. However, he said that local authorities are legally obligated to investigate noise complaints under the Environmental Protection Act of 1990 and that the council considers “equality duties” and “its responsibilities” during investigations of nuisance complaints.
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