Reducing noise complaints from licensed premises – Elmbridge BC noise code

Elmbridge licensees - Noise Action Week 2012Elmbridge Borough Council in Surrey used Noise Action Week promotion to launch development of  their scheme to manage noise from licensed premises. Paul Leadbeater, Principal Environmental Health Officer outlines how this scheme and a Noise Toolkit is helping to keep the peace between neighbours.

The Elmbridge BC Noise Code for Licensed Premises (NCLP) was originally launched for consultation during Noise Action Week 2012. This launch took place at a well attended event for the borough’s licensees covering all aspects of noise management in relation to licensed premises and showcased how the NCLP could help. Consultation feedback was received from a variety of interested parties and the Code was amended before being finally launched for membership on the 10 September 2012.

Our code now provides comprehensive advice and information for licensees displayed in a creative and innovative way, in addition to being a voluntary code that seeks to establish a standard of excellence in the management of noise from participating pubs, clubs and bars. This is achieved through a commitment to follow three key principles:

  • best practice in noise management
  • good complaint procedures
  • a commitment to working with partner agencies

The NCLP forms part of the Council’s award winning online Noise Toolkit that empowers residents and businesses to deal with noise. Licensees apply online committing to membership conditions and to following the NCLP principles. Officers from the borough’s environmental protection service will then contact the licensee and visit the premises to conduct a noise “MOT”, covering the NCLP’s three key principles. Those premises that pass are enrolled onto the scheme and can take advantage of the benefits that membership brings.

Benefits to member licensees:

  • The possibility of a future reduction in the cost of an annual premises license fee
  • Facilitates business profitability and improves legal compliance
  • Online newsletters keeping licensees up-to-date on noise issues
  • Publicity on the Borough website, raising the profile of responsible operators
  • Online licensing register (coming later)
  • Free training
  • Helps maintain business reputation within the community
  • Improves knowledge and skills on aspects of noise management and  control.

 Benefits for local residents:

  • Reassurance for those living close to licensed premises – better compliance leads to less likelihood of noise disturbance
  • Online register with license conditions (coming later) – allowing conditions to be viewed
  • Clear and improved complaint management.

To date almost 90% of Pubwatch members in Elmbridge have signed up to the code. The impact of the scheme so far is all positive. We now have:

  • Improved relationship between officers at Elmbridge BC and licensed premises
  • The opportunity to discuss all aspects of noise management offered by MOT visits
  • Reduced number of noise complaints – and swifter resolution where complaints arise.

We are currently working to encourage even wider participation in the scheme, and recently held a ‘Let’s Talk Licensing’ event to which all licensees in the borough were invited, attracting a good turn out. Noise Action Week 2014 gives us the opportunity to further promote the code and our Noise Toolkit and Noise Code for Licensed Premises.

Paul Leadbeater, Principal Environmental Health Officer


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