May 18, 2009

Posted by in Birmingham, Reports | 8 Comments

Project X Presents – Music Is Not Pollution

Project X Presents was, and continues to be a huge inspiration to Mr Elephant. Some of us have been involved with Project X from the start, and Mr Elephant was born out of the experience of the first Project X Presents Event, the early Rockfall events, and a lot of what was going on in Birmingham at the time.


One of those things that was going on in brum was the noise abatement orders Our first home for the first Project X Event, and the first Mr Elephant festival style events – Epic Skate Park, ended up being shut down due to one obsessive complainer. Then followed the first home for the Mr Elephant Family Events – The Prince of Wales, which Keith & Diane were again really keen to use for arty and community events, but yet again they are facing more and more restrictive legislation, which pretty much stops them doing anything.

All of the above events were very safe, full of lovely people, incorporated both family events in the day and music events on the evening and generated a wealth of positive response from all ages, yet both events were not able to continue at the venues, because of the restrictions imposed upon them by the council. Its worth noting that our 6th event host – the fabulous the Rainbow Beach for Celebrate Birmingham’s Underground was also under scrutiny, and it seems that all these venue owners, (promoters and collectives) are all just trying to do great stuff for Birmingham, always at great financial risk, but seem to be constantly limited by the very council who is looking to put Birmingham on the map with the big city plan!?

Following some initial conversations with John Tigue and John Mostyn, the stirrer and created in birmingham was the first time we read about all this online, and it inspired 3 investigative reports from Ruth Robinson on Digbeth (who herself has a deep interest and experience in the development of areas). They raised an interesting question of whether the complaints were also linked in with the developers plans, and whether the intention to close venues down was not because of any real problems or issues, but to develop the vision of splitting Digbeth in quarters, as part of the Big City Plan, regardless of the impact on business and the city.

We’re not sure, but it leads really nicely onto this insightful Project X Presents video – Music Is Not Pollution, with interviews from John (Spotted Dog), Keith (Epic/Prince), Kent (Rainbow), and an abacus resident, all of which raise some very interesting points. One of which being why would the council want to stop such venues when there is such a huge support for them and only a handful of complaints, and when they are wanting to put Birmingham on the map in such a big way.

If you have anything to say, please feel free to comment. Now we’ve got the website going again, this video has inspired us to follow up some interviews we did in 2007. We’ll post links to any further debate from the Project X Presents collective, and anything else we can find, and feel free to add links yourself in comments

  1. Halo Jones says:

    As the city fills with apartments developers can’t sell what happens to the venues that are already there? The Rainbow is surrounded by industrial units so if it is facing closure due to noise where is there left for venues to go. Are we to become a city whose only interaction with other people is in cyberspace!

  2. It really boggles my brain that they want to house so many new tennants into the digbeth and birmingham centre area and the people they are targeting are of a more 25-35 crowd! now if you want to put people of that age gap into the city centre u surely want nightlife to be booming and interesting dont you? so why the hell would u want to close down clubs especially around the rainbow and custard factory when they house some of the most biggest dj`s around birmingham? plus its soul destroying for artists around birmingham that have contributed so much talent to the music scene and still are in birmingham! look at londons scene! even tho they have the creme de la creme i still feel the underground scene is a lot more pure in birmingham and a lot more experimental and birmingham should be building on this not knocking it down!

  3. whatever next, money grabbin, joy police mutha.!@?!!! I gotta say at a time of recession and venues and pubs struggling to stay open anyway, to discriminate against those which, have actually survived thus far is preposterous! Show me where to sign!

  4. Shameful bollocks 🙁 I never found it too noisy living in Digbeth, though that said some of my parties often drowned out street-noise so the far off boom of a sound system was minimal.

    If you’re going to move to somewhere as vibrant and happening as Digbeth, surely you should be aware in advance the area you’re moving to isn’t going to be the silent life!

    Take the garage across the road from the Rainbow, there’s an open planning application to turn that plot of land into a hotel once the lease is up on the land. The first thing a major hotelier will do is to put pressure on the pubs and local clubs to shut up.

    Thank the stars for the setbacks in development due to the recession in this case as the money simply may not be there to make this idiotic fantasy come true!

  5. Here’s some facts from the rainbow & their group


    The Rainbow in Digbeth is facing closure as a result of ONE person’s complaints about noise. Please show your support for one of Bham’s finest independant venues.

    Birmingham City Council EPU (Environmental Protection Unit), are today sat in session considering the serving of a noise abatement order against The Rainbow.

    This is the latest move in their wish to see a once vibrant Digbeth transformed into a souless artistic wasteland populated by Stepford wives and cultural pygmies, and where the only entertainment is watching tumbleweeds race down deserted back streets.

    This latest outrage is yet again the result of one – yes that is right ONE- resident of the Abacus flats complaining about a noise nuisance.

    This resident since occupying the flats has seen off the Spotted Dog (its nearest and most immediate target), is now close to achieving the same with The Rainbow, and will no doubt soon be turning their sights on The Rainbow Warehosue and The Custard Factory.

    Just how much devestation are they allowed to cause before someone has the wit to halt this senseless slaughter. Many of the councils own departments vaunt the vibrancy of Digbeth, and indeed the Planning office makes much reference to Digbeth’s unique ‘jewel in the crown’ potential as part of it’s big city plan. Just how much vibrancy will soon be left – perhaps just the vibarting echo of a hollow vaccum? Anyone who has followed this issue on line is aware of the strength of feeling it arouses, and the sheer frustration of how Birmingham seems determined to always be the ugly sister/poodle next to far more dynamic cities like Manchester, London and Liverpool who provide their cultural spaces with oxygen to breath and prosper as opposed to smothering them.

    No-one can underestimate the significance of art and cultutre on the desirability of a city to live and work in – and it is generally a city’s youth that are best placed to take a city’s cultural pulse. Increasingly Birmingham’s is flatlining. Just think how different it could be if institutions and organisations like The Rainbow were given support, and how much change they could effect in other people’s perception of the City.

    Noise nuisnace is a totally subjective matter – it is not measured – it is all about a council officers ‘trained human ear’. There have been instances where even the EPU’s own officers have failed to detect a nuisance following a complaint against The Rainbow – but different day and different officer – different result..

    There are residents on the same facade and elevation facing the Rainbow that maintain there is absolutely no nuisance at all and that far from having a problem with the Rainbow – the reason they moved in was to be close to such ammenities (this is similarly the overwhelming view of Digbeth’s Residents Association).

    The Rainbow’s own research from the Abacus rooftops indicates that yes a bass beat can be heard when there is a lull in background traffic noise – but would struggle to see how this was a noise nuisnace behind closed windows and doors and should certainly cause no problem when trying to sleep within a bedroom.

    Nevertheless accepting the views of the Council and having had a number of ‘noise nuisances’ subjectively witnessed againt them from one resident’s flat, the Rainbow has agreed to erect a roof on it’s courtyard area to prevent sound leakage.

    This in itself is a highly sensitive subject as the Rainbow is being made to pay the price of the council’s own negligence over the construction of the Abacus flats (which failed to comply with thier own rules on noise surveys). The Rainbow agreed to do this as soon as plans could be steered through the planning department – so completion would be around August.

    Meantime The Rainbow has regularly asked to negotiate/discuss with EPU/complainant it’s events over the ensuing 3 months, to try and ensure that everyone keeps a cool head, as we cannot afford to close for the period, and any suggestion of us playing music at an ambient level is just naive. This has included giving them details of what times events will start and finish, planning noisier events around times when they may not be in reidence (on holiday), offering to put them up at our expense in a hotel for the night if needed – even very simply getting them to phone us if the levels creep too high. REMEMBER this is just over a 3 month period until a roof prevents any further issues.

    Unfortunately EPU and the tenant refused to countenance such an initiative and have decided to simply stick to – ‘if you make what we consider to be a nuisnace meantime, we will act’ – this was even when informed we would need to hold some fundraising events meantime to ensure we could provide for the very solution to their problems.

    Anyhow following another subjectively witmessed noise nuisance commieted before 11.30pm on Monday (hardly the middle of the night) we now are now awaiting a decision on an abatement order. Knowing what a ridiculous injustice this is and what the wider implications are for the area – we will fight it should we get it – to the bitter end if necessary – to the point we are physically ejected and the pub is boarded up. But we would like your help – sign up to the facebook group so we can present it to the council.

    Thank you

    The Rainbow Team


    The sword of Damocles hanging over the head of the Rainbow has finally fallen. This latest decapitation is further evidence of the City Counci’ls EPU department zealously applying it’s subjective and tenuous rules regarding ‘noise nuisance’ – for the benefit of one resident and to the detriment of the vast majority. This is despite a commitment to sound insulate the roof from which the sound of music emanates – as quick as the planning department can allow it.

    We will issue our response this Friday at 6.30 – 7.00pm at The Rainbow. If you can make it we would appreciate your attendance and moral support. Please spread the word.
    Cheap drinks will be served.

    Rainbow Team.


  1. Does anyone know much about noise abatement orders? - The Consumer Forums - [...] Digbeth pub The Rainbow facing closure after noise complaints Project X Presents – Music Is Not Pollution|Mr…

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