Scarborough Rugby Club noise row reaches inquiry

Laura Welburn sings the national anthem without backing music at Scarborough Rugby Club.
Laura Welburn sings the national anthem without backing music at Scarborough Rugby Club.
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Scarborough Rugby Club would make life “unbearable” for nearby residents if restrictions on playing music over its loudspeaker system were lifted, a public inquiry was told yesterday.

The Silver Royd-based club is already permitted to use its PA system for match announcements.

It presented expert evidence yesterday which stated that using it for tunes and jingles would make no difference to people living in nearby Scalby.

Roger Lancaster, a barrister for the club, told the inquiry at Scarborough Town Hall they were only looking to play music at four festivals spread over eight days.

He said there was already plenty of background noise at the games which the planners were not concerned with.

“There’s no control over clapping, booing or shouting. The local authority is entirely happy with that situation,” he added.

The club was happy to comply with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines which specifically deal with the playing of music on sports fields.

“Various other standards are suggested, one relating to industrial noise. I cannot see how we can comply in this case,” he said.

There were also guidelines for concerts but this was not a concert venue and the WHO guidelines were more stringent anyway, he said.

There were also rules governing pubs and clubs. “But this is not a pub or club - it’s people enjoying rugby at a festival four times a year,” he continued.

Yesterday’s hearing was packed with dozens of people mainly objecting to the club’s appeal against the refusal of Scarborough Council to lift the restrictions.

Acoustic expert for the club, Jaroslaw Gil, said it would make no difference to the residents if the loudspeakers were being used for music or match information..

“The music played back will not be any greater disturbance than the announcer’s voice,” he said.

But the council’s own consultant Andrew Raymond said: “This is just wrong - and you do not have to be a noise expert to know this.

“We have a situation where the announcements are already likely to be quite annoying.

“So the question for the inquiry is simply whether or not the addition of jingles will make it worse - and it is my professional judgment it will be.”

John Hunter, counsel for Scarborough Council, said: “Given that the club itself refers to events involving around 200 matches, and bearing in mind the frequency with which tries are scored in junior rugby, this suggests there will be at least hundreds, or more probably thousands, of bursts of such music on top of voice announcements over each weekend.

“Standing back from all the expert evidence for a moment, common sense suggests that this is likely to prove unacceptable and, depending on their sensitivity to it, perhaps may prove unbearable for those living nearby.

“Then taking into account that there is no true functional need for such music or jingles - it is clearly an ‘extra’ - it is difficult to see why residents should be expected to put up with it.”

Planning Inspector Alexandra Fairclough will announce her decision at a later date.

The ban made headlines after it prevented the club playing God Save the Queen at a recent international game.

The club got around the ban by hiring local singer Laura Welburn to belt out the words without backing music.