Rugby club’s chief executive questions council wranglings

Scarborough RUFC are facing a legal battle to be able to play jingles at their Silver Royd base

Scarborough RUFC are facing a legal battle to be able to play jingles at their Silver Royd base

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Scarborough RUFC chief executive Graeme Young has firmly questioned Scarborough Borough Council over the long-rumbling noise debacle.

The Scarborough News have obtained a copy of Young’s programme notes from yesterday’s Yorkshire One opener against Driffield.

They read: “It’s a rugby club, it doesn’t need music” were the words of Councillor Dorothy Clegg of Whitby at the recent planning sub-committee meeting. Our application asking for music at very low levels to be played outside four times a years up till 6pm for rugby festivals was rejected. I thought club members might be interested in an insight into how some of the proceedings went.

“The council planning officer read out his report, which highlighted the Environmental Health Department’s support for our application and the fact that the planning officers were themselves recommending approval for a second time. (Incidentally, we are the only business/property/organisation in Scarborough who have this restriction) After the planning officer has spoken, ordinarily Councillors would then be afforded the opportunity to ask questions, then make comments and/or suggest amendments. Cllr Dorothy Clegg was keen to speak first. She duly got her wish.

“Rather than asking questions, she immediately took to task the Rugby club’s request to use music. In fact her words matched the very closely the narrative used by the hardcore half dozen objectors in the lead-up to the meeting.

“Then, before any other Councillor had spoken, she proposed an amendment to remove the music element of the application, which was seconded by Cllr Dave Billing. As a point of interest this amendment was never even put to a vote as one would imagine is the norm.

“It was during her opening words that Cllr Clegg used the words “it’s a rugby club, it doesn’t need music”. In itself this may sound reasonable. After all, we play on grass with a ball and referee, so why the music? If we had claimed that every game of rugby needed music then clearly this would be unreasonable and not something we could substantiate. But this wasn’t our request or claim in this application. Moreover, is this line of thought on music exclusive to rugby or does it extend to other sports? For example “It’s cricket, there’s no need for music?” If so, presumably does it follow that the jingles accompanying 20/20 cricket matches at North Marine Road are inappropriate? Perhaps Yorkshire should be told to keep their road-show in Leeds along with up to 10,000 supporters!! Or are the residents of the houses that sit on the boundary of NMR not considered to be worthy of consideration? So is it just rugby, or is it all sports? What are her views on her own Whitby Town football club’s sound systems that are audible across the whole town every home match? “It’s football, it doesn’t need music” maybe? Will Scarborough Athletic supporters be deprived of any background music at Weaponness or is that “different” as it will be a SBC facility? Perhaps the Scarborough News may wish to ask these questions at some stage? This may seem like an attack on Councillor Dothery Clegg but it really isn’t. She raised a number of points which were clearly important to her and it was her right to express them. I am merely taking the opportunity to respond and to point out some of the contradictions and inconsistencies - I’m sure she will respect my right to do so.

“Attracting children to play sport isn’t like it was decades ago. Sports must now sell themselves to compete with the Xbox, the Wii, 500 TV channels. Rugby (and other sports) festivals have proved a hugely successful means across the whole country of attracting children to sport. It is the very fact that a weekend is made special with various attractions as well as celebratory music and jingles which makes it a spectacle. We would like to invite all of the local Councillors and especially those who sit on the planning committee to attend one of the rugby festivals and see for themselves the smiles on the children’s faces when they score a try and hear a bit of music played to recognise their success? For the child it is a few seconds of stardom – those smiles are the surest sign that we are beating the Xbox and the TV. It’s sad that some of those smiles will not now be as evident. Did you watch the Olympics? Did you see what an important part music played in sport there, how it energises, enthuses and inspires people? Are we to celebrate all that is good about sport and its development but only if it is in another town, not in Scarborough? Did you stand for election to hold Scarborough back, make us second best with a reputation as the town that says no?

“As for the claim that what we wanted was just too loud - every Councillor in the chamber when they spoke will have done so at a level of around 65 to 70 decibels. Decibels are a logarithmic measurement, the sound intensity doesn’t go up and down in a straight line fashion. Every 10db change of sound doubles or halves the loudness of sound. We had proposed that the level of music sound in the back garden of our nearest neighbour would be 50 decibels. So that is HALF and then half again the level at which each Councillor was speaking at in the chamber.

“We had requested this facility for four times a year, each to be finished by 6pm. The Open Air Theatre is permitted to output until 11 pm all year round and their limit is 95 decibels!! What is even stranger is that the planning committee was happy to allow us tannoy announcements at the same level - just not music? So is it too loud or not? We are confused! In the Scarborough News recently, Councillor Jane Mortimer stated that an acoustic engineer’s report said that music would be “far more intrusive through neighbours homes”? With respect, her own environmental health department said this is not the case. Two separate industry-leading acoustic engineers’ reports submitted by us said this wasn’t the case either. However if we accept these concerns, how can 95db at the Open Air Theatre be justified? Some objectors claim we are making an unfair comparison between a theatre and a sports ground. Why? Surely if the comfort and amenity of residents is the main concern, then sound is sound, it doesn’t matter whether it is from a concert venue or a rugby club. If some believe that 50 db in a garden (less than 35db in the house!) four times a year is so heinous and so destructive why not apply that evenly across the town?

In my opinion the Open Air Theatre is a wonderful asset to the town and should be applauded and allowed to go about it’s reasonable business, however I feel the rugby club should be given the same reasonable freedom.

“It has been suggested that I am unwise to “take on” the planning committee. It’s “shooting yourself in the foot”, “they wont forget it” and “you’ll live to regret it”. Well I’m afraid I don’t have any sympathy with that argument, it is outdated and has no place in our modern society. We have tried for two years to work with them and have bent over backwards to be reasonable. This has not been reciprocated. In Britain we should be proud of our history of fighting for what is right and standing up for those under attack. So I say if someone chooses to stand for office, chooses to ignore a planning officer’s recommendation, chooses to ignore Environmental Health officers’ advice, chooses to place burdensome restrictions on a community sports club that they don’t place on their other facilities - and in doing so wipe the smiles off the faces of 1,000’s of children - then I’m sure they are happy for a accept a robust debate.

“It would be unfair of me not to mention that at the second committee meeting Councillor Jay-Hamner spoke in favour of the whole application and in the first committee meeting Councillors Haddington, Allanson and Smith all supported the application. Unfortunately none of the latter three were present for the second meeting. Also Councillors Flinton, Green and Watson were required to leave the room as they are Rugby Club members. (In my personal opinion I believe that Councillors Flinton and Green would have fully supported the rugby club)

“We genuinely want to work with all those involved in this process including residents, officers and Councillors. It seems that there remains an information gulf between what we are actually proposing and third party understanding of those proposals.

“Hopefully the Councillors will take up our offer to visit the club. In the meantime work on our appeal continues.”

We want to hear your views on the legal wranglings going on up at Silver Royd. Should the rugby club be allowed to play jingles? Email us: andy.bloomfield@yrnltd.co.uk - Tweet us: @SN_Sport - Or ring us: 01723383857