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Manchester’s Night & Day hoping to have noise complaint notice and threat of closure lifted next week

Legendary Manchester music venue Night & Day are hoping to have their noise complaint notice and threat of closure lifted next week – over two years after it was first served.

The iconic venue has been under threat of closure for the past couple of years, after it faced a noise complaint from a resident who had moved to Manchester during lockdown in 2021.

Following the complaint, more than 94,000 people signed a petition to remove the Noise Abatement Notice (NAN). These came from the likes of Johnny Marr, New Order, Courteeners, Frank Turner and Mogwai, as well as the network of the UK’s grassroots music venues.

The Charlatans‘ Tim Burgess – who was instrumental in saving Manchester’s Gorilla and Deaf Institute through the pandemic – told NME why it was essential to fight back against this complaint while Elbow frontman Guy Garvey described Night & Day as an “essential” independent venue “that took it upon themselves to look after the city’s music and art”.

Now, the venue has shared an update, and revealed that it hopes that the threat of closure will be lifted in the following days as the residents who placed the complaint have moved out and no further queries have been raised.

“We head back to Manchester Magistrates Court on Monday [January 29] for our final three day hearing. We’re hoping to remove the Noise Abatement Notice (NAN) MCC Environmental Health Officers served on us over 2 years ago,” read an update on X/Twitter.

“The NAN relates to one noise complaint from a resident who bought an adjoining flat during lockdown. We maintain the source of the problem is that when the adjoining building was converted from warehouse to flats, no consideration was given to the pre-existing music venue.”

Elsewhere in the series of updates, the venue went on to share details of the threat of closure, and the response they received from the local government in the time since it was first raised. It also added why it hopes the threat of closure and noise complaint notice will be dropped, as well as asking for support from the general public.

“The resident of the flat has since moved out around 18 months ago and we’ve not received any further noise complaints,” it explained. “The venue continues to operate in exactly the same manner it has done for over 32 years – live music and club nights. The flat remains unoccupied. To be clear N&D has not changed how, where and what we do.

“We are surrounded by other late night licenced premises, bars and clubs in an area of late licences and vibrant nightlife,” it concluded. “Once the judge has listened to the evidence presented, she will then review and come to a decision after the hearing.”

News of the 2021 complaint raised against the historic venue came after it won a hard-fought battle against a separate noise complaint back in 2014.

In November 2022, venue owner Jennifer Smithson – who owns the venue alongside her husband Ben – spoke about the pressure faced by Night & Day at Manchester Magistrates’ Court. “I’m in shock. I can’t understand why the council thinks Night & Day have done something wrong. I’m at a loss as to why I’m sat here in a courtroom,” she said. “We’re running our business in the same way for 31 years and I thought the council would be really proud of what we’ve done for the city of Manchester.”

The venue’s representative, Sarah Clover, added that the potential closure was a “national scandal,” going on to call Manchester Council the “poster child” for such decisions.

The 1975’s Matty Healy – who performed some of the band’s formative gigs at the venue – also weighed in on the controversy, saying it was “like moving to Leicester Square and complaining about there being too many cinemas”. Elbow frontman Guy Garvey also continued to champion the Manchester site, telling NME that he was “ hugely disappointed in the council”.

Matty Healy of The 1975 performs in concert during the 2023 Austin City Limits Music Festival. CREDIT: Gary Miller/Getty Images

“It is completely insane. It’s a small family running a family business. Jennifer Smithson’s dad Yan is gone. As well as being frightened of being able to keep the doors open for her, her staff and her family, she’s got her father’s memory to consider in all of this,” he explained. “They could take all of this off her plate by protecting the place and doing the right thing and putting a blue plaque on the building.”

In response to the backlash, a spokesperson for Manchester City Council said: “It must be made explicitly clear from the outset that the Council has never threatened to close down this venue, nor is there any legislation which would allow a Noise Abatement Notice to be used to close a premises.

“The Council is, and remains, supportive of the music scene in Manchester which Night and Day has championed, but we have to comply with our duties in respect of statutory nuisance,” they continued. “It is also important to state that the source of complaints regarding this venue relate to very loud music played into the early hours of the morning and not live band performances.”

In December 2022, the partner of the man who raised the complaint told a court that he’d become a “recluse” and lost 30kg due to stress.

Night & Day is just one of countless grassroots venues across the UK to face the threat of closure in recent years.

Last year saw the Music Venue Trust deliver their first annual report at the Houses Of Parliament – warning grassroots gig spaces in the UK were “going over a cliff” without without urgent government action and investment from new large arenas.

There was also a stark warning that the UK was set to lose 10 per cent of its grassroots music venues in 2023, the MVT and others from the sector ended the year by telling NME how 2023 was the “worst year for venue closures” while “no one in music industry seems to care”.

Earlier this week, a new report was published showing the “disaster” that struck the UK’s grassroots music venues in 2023. Among the key findings was that 125 UK venues abandoned live music and that over half of them had shut entirely – including the legendary Moles in Bath.

Some of the more pressing constraints were reported as soaring energy prices, landlords increasing rate amounts, supply costs, business rates, licensing issues, noise complaints and the continuing shockwaves of COVID-19.

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