Manchester venue Night & Day has claimed that the city’s council is declaring “war” on local nightlife and culture, following a noise abatement notice that arose in 2021.
The iconic space 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 the lockdown.
Following the complaint, over 94,000 people signed a petition to remove the Noise Abatement Notice (NAN) – including music heavyweights Johnny Marr, New Order, Courteeners, Frank Turner and Mogwai, as well as the network of the UK’s grassroots music venues.
Now, just one week after the promoters revealed that it hopes that the threat of closure will be lifted – particularly after the residents who placed the complaint moved out and no further queries have been raised – they have gone to court and claimed that the noise battle is a “declaration of war” by the local council.
Speaking in court at the end of the recent three-day hearing, the venue’s representative, Sarah Clover, claimed that the threat of closure was an “unjustified” attack which could negatively impact the local nightlife and culture in Manchester (via Complete Music Update).
Clover also urged for the judge to “quash” the noise complaint, highlighting how it was the only one the venue ever received during its 32 years and the residents who filed it have now moved out.
Responding, Council lawyer Leo Charalambides said that the venue was “attempting to invite the court to go against centuries of legal tradition and two supreme court judgements”, and claimed that they would “be taking this case further” if the judge were to rule in favour of the venue (via Manchester Evening News).
“There’s a special importance that should be attached [to the right to] enjoy … one’s home”, he added. “I am not sure there’s a special importance that should be attached to being able to hear ‘Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This’ while you try to go to sleep”.
District Judge Margaret McCormack has said that the court will reconvene later this month to hear her judgement.
As well as the 94,000 people who signed a petition to remove the Noise Abatement Notice, The Charlatans‘ Tim Burgess – who was instrumental in saving Manchester’s Gorilla and Deaf Institute through the pandemic – also told NME why it was essential to fight back against this complaint.
Similarly, 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”, and told NME that he was “ hugely disappointed in the council”.
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”.
News of the 2021 complaint raised against the historic venue came after it won a battle against a separate noise complaint back in 2014.
In November 2022, venue owner Jennifer Smithson – who owns the venue alongside her husband Ben – told 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. 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 Manchester venue is just one of hundreds grassroots venues across the UK to face the threat of closure in recent years.
In 2023, the Music Venue Trust delivered 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 last year, and 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”.
The problem continues to grow in 2024, and last month 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.