Complaints about noise and anti-social behaviour around events on Hove Lawns are not getting through to the people who need to know.
Neighbours living in the Brunswick and Adelaide ward have raised multiple issues of noise and drunken behaviour with councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty but these are not being properly recorded by the city council.
These issues were raised at a licensing panel on Friday 16 May, as Brighton and Hove City Council applied for an alcohol licence for the lawns, in line with other open spaces in the city.
Currently events where alcohol is sold are subject to temporary event notices (TENS) which are restricted to 21 days of the year.
The panel chaired by councillor Jackie O’Quinn, with councillors Lizzie Deane and Carol Theobald, heard there were five complaints in the last year relating to noise.
Councillor Mac Cafferty disputed these figures as he had more than that from the last weekend (May 11-12) alone, which he passed onto the council.
He spoke against the council’s application for an alcohol licence from 9am-10.30pm in support of the 39 residents who object to the plan.
Hove Lawns falls across both the cumulative impact zone and special stress areas, where limits are placed on the number of alcohol led businesses.
Councillor Mac Cafferty said the concentration of businesses selling alcohol was the reason why restrictions were placed on new licenses in the densely populated area.
He said: “Our area does not need even more access to alcohol and extended hours of opening and access to alcohol will add to the number of venues selling alcohol into the night, increasing the risk of anti-social behaviour.
“A disproportionate quantity of calls and emails I take on the issue of anti-social behaviour is residents reporting the consumption and over consumption of alcohol.”
Councillor Mac Cafferty was also concerned about public safety as the lawns are only accessed by crossing the busy A259, which he said is busy with issues of speeding cares.
He added: “The only thing we know that will happen if this application gets granted is that we will get more public nuisance as people get back into town or travel home through our streets.
“My residents will have to pay in terms of loss of their amenity as there is yet more time for noisy events. They will have to pay with intoxicated punters walking up their streets at 11pm and beyond at night.”
He was concerned people who objected were asked to withdraw their objections after an explanation from the council.
After reading the letter from the council Councillor O’Quinn agreed the request to withdraw the objection was not usual.
Residents also raised concerns about the loss of use of the lawns for the many families and elderly people who live in the area.
Juliet Hunting of Brunswick and Adelaide Residents’ Group said: “If we have this licence extended then the asset is lost for the whole city, not just Brunswick.
“There are two primary schools in the area, all living in flats the children are, that is where the lawns are absolutely vital for the children.”
Residents were assured the various events pay to return the lawns to their previous state.
Executive director for economy, environment and culture Nick Hibberd said the council has license in its parks so that events taking place do not have to apply for separate events.
He said the application is not to increase the number of events on Hove Lawns.
However, the council wants to have a proper licence rather than TENS as this puts tighter restrictions on events.
He pointed out Sussex Police supported the application because it gives the council greater responsibility and accountability for safely running events on the lawns.
Mr Hibberd said: “It means council officers would be the designated premises supervisors for the site.
“One of the key points I would like to make is if events happen on Hove Lawns we need to find a way to manage them as effectively as possible and this is a way to manage that.”
In an effort to come to a balance between residents’ concerns and the council’s licence bid, a suggestion to cut back the licence starting time to noon, was agreed by events manager Ian Taylor.
Both Mr Taylor and Mr Hibberd supported restricting alcohol licences annually to ten days at the Peace Statue end of the lawns and 30 days opposite Grand Avenue, where the Ladyboys of Bangkok is currently based.
Mr Hibberd also committed to meeting with residents groups every three months to discuss events on the lawns.
At the end of the meeting councillors retired to discuss their decision which will be sent out in five working days.