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2022 Jazz Festival disquiet

  • by MWT

We are all looking forward to the new Jazz festival proposed to be an annual occurrence in the town. It will bring a much needed boost to our tourism and economy so why is there now disquiet?

It is because of the Licensing Application submitted by the organiser to East Devon District Council, or at least to the way it is reported on the EDDC website.

This application asks that they be allowed to provide music and alcohol on the Ham to 2.30 in the morning, and this has understandably caused alarm. It is a residential area and noise would affect people on Beatlands Road, and higher up the hill, and Riverside Road but most especially Glenisla Terrace. The noise would also travel widely across the town centre, as would people dispersing after the activities finished. Lots of potential there for annoyed residents!

However it would seem that the application doesn’t tell the whole story. ( The application has since been withdrawn and a new one is likely to be submitted)
Whether this is due to
a) the required form limiting the information that can be given, or
b) to the applicant not understanding that residents need to know the full picture, or
c) a failure of East Devon District Council to understand that they need to pass everything on to avoid creating alarm,
something has gone wrong somewhere.

The result is that we urgently need to put the matter straight.
Sidmouth Town Council has been working closely with the organiser, Ian Bowden, and we have received assurances that activities will be tightly controlled and monitored. The application for the later hours refers to a separate small venue to be erected at the southern end of the Ham. This venue will be sound proofed and the music there will be ‘semi-acoustic’ ( whatever that means for noise levels!). The maximum capacity is intended to be 170 to limit disruption when people leave. To many of us 170 seems a lot, especially when you think of the noise created by people who left Carina’s when it was open. However, it may be that these jazz lovers will be more restrained.

Ian Bowden has given the following information to help explain the situation.

In respect of the license, I just wanted to clarify that the main concerts will finish at 11.00pm at the absolute latest on each day. The license refers to a 2.30am finish wish is only for our proposed music lounge which will take place within a fully enclosed and sound proofed structure at the far end of the Ham and has a small capacity of 170.
The style of the music presentation will be very low key and very much geared to a low level of sound with semi – acoustic music to ensure that noise is kept to an absolute sensible minimum.
Access to the site will be from the far end of the Ham to minimise any pedestrian use of the path that is adjacent to the Ham and the properties located along this path.
Our expected audiences to attend these events are mature, sensible and appreciative lovers of music and we do not anticipate and issues in respect of disruption. We will ensure that our audiences are respectful of residents at all times and manage this process extremely carefully. This is not a night club scenario at all and our events will not to attract these type of customers.
Every due care and attention to detail will be enforced to ensure that our events are managed to the highest standards and with the minimum of disruption to nearby resident.

Sidmouth Town Council are to discuss this at their next meeting. The licensing application consultation period ends on 3rd June, if you wish to make comment to the Licensing Manager ( it must be before then.