Tag Archives: Joburg Bar

Constructive move by the LSRA to encourage a meeting of minds …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 17th May 2012

Noise nuisances and legitimising complaints took centre stage when the Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA) met with nightclubs to discuss noise and liquor licence issues. Geoff Madsen, developer of Flatrock Suites and an LSRA member said the association was looking for new ways to engage with clubs.

“We all want Long Street to remain as it is. This is not about closing anyone down but to find new ways we can engage to resolve issues about noise. “In my discussions with clubs, I found that half of the time they don’t even know when complaints are lodged against them,” he said. Mr Madsen said that for the past six years, he had awful experiences with bass. “It goes through everything and we can’t sleep. There are laws around noise nuisance so we can’t say ‘you can’t complain, you live in the city’,” he said.

Norbert Furnon-Roberts, who heads the Area Liquor Forum (ALF) and is a member of the ward committee, asked club owners and managers if they had read the Streets, Public Places and the Prevention of Nuisances By-law. Many said they had not read the document and were told the LSRA would email it to them. Mr Madsen said there were many aspects of the complaints system on noise nuisances that opened it up to misuse and club owners and residents needed to find a way to legitimise complaints. Club owners and managers said they were concerned about the legitimacy of complaints.

Bruce Gordon from Joburg Bar said it took him several years to get a Health and Entertainment Licence and asked whether residents have considered double- glazing their windows. Mr Madsen said not only was double-glazing expensive but it did little to prevent bass from filtering through. Jan Davids from Marvel said there were ways of lowering bass but there were issues with bass travelling through the roofs of clubs. Mr Madsen said he would remain in contact with clubs in the area about noise complaints.

Speaking to the CapeTowner after the meeting, LSRA convenor Byron Qually said the association was concerned about clubs and businesses misusing the City’s mechanisms to report noise. “For any complaint system to have legitimacy in a commercial environment, business competitiveness needs to be taken into account. “This is not to say that a business cannot bring a noise complaint against another business, but rather that such a complaint should be investigated to establish if it is factual.

“On the other hand, with the suppressed economic climate, struggling businesses tend to increase their noise footprint to generate awareness, and so impact on surrounding establishments. It has also been known for noise compliant clubs to removed their sound dampening to remain competitive with noncompliant clubs,” Mr Qually said. He said the meeting highlighted that residents do want bars and clubs to remain in the city, but a collaborative approach was needed to identify an entertainment model that works for all stakeholders.

“The noise disputes have also overshadowed shared visions that residents and clubs have for Long Street, and which can be taken forward collectively. “However, the immediate result of the meeting is that the LSRA will be working independently with each club owner and surrounding residents to define a noise level which caters for both residential and entertainment needs,” he said. Ward councillor Dave Bryant said he supported the efforts of residents and clubs in dealing with noise complaints.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

Unlicensed night-club, and residents who fear victimisation …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 19th January 2012

While residents and night-clubs in the CBD continue their fight over excessive noise, The Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA) has launched a scathing attack on City officials claiming they are ill-equipped to deal with noise contraventions. The statements were made after the association tried to assist Pepper Street residents who raised concerns about The Loop nightclub which, they said, was operating without a Health and Entertainment Licence and causing a noise nuisance. The CapeTowner was contacted in December last year by residents complaining about the noise. However, all the residents refused to be named because they said they were afraid of victimisation.

LSRA convenor Byron Qually said the first complaint was received on Monday December 19. “We received reports that The Loop was playing music ‘beyond excessive’ every night until after 4am, and is operating without an entertainment licence. “We reassured residents that their concern is by no means isolated, and that it forms part of an ongoing battle with the City Environmental Health Department over the last three years about noise pollution. “We gave them practical advice and told them who in local government would be able to take their concerns further, in an attempt to save them time in navigating a very confusing City structure,” Mr Qually said.

City media manager Kylie Hatton confirmed that the club was operating without a Health and Entertainment Licence. She said an application was made on Wednesday December 21 after the club had been fined. “The licence has not yet been finalised as comments are still awaited from all reporting departments. The City’s health department received three complaints in December,” she said. Ms Hatton also said that affidavits have been submitted to the legal department on Thursday December 29, for a summons to be issued to the owners of the nightclub to appear in court for operating without a licence.

Vaughan Cragg, general manager of The Loop, said the club’s management was fulfilling the requirements for the nightclub to be licensed. “We applied for our business and entertainment licences before we opened. It is well known that it takes time to apply for a licence. Various people have to come inspect the club, and if there are problems, they advise us, the problem is rectified and they come to inspect again,” he said. “Having plans approved takes the longest. We are aware of the requirements. I used to manage Joburg Bar and the Dubliner in Long Street, and had to go through the same process.

“Many bars in Long Street are yet to get their business or entertainment licences,” Mr Cragg said. He told the CapeTowner the only complaint he was aware of was when a man approached him on opening night about excessive noise and he had been dealing with authorities since then. He said the club had installed soundproofing and was operating on a temporary liquor licence. Mr Cragg said that the club was owned by The Business Zone 963cc. In December, the CapeTowner was invited to attend the media launch of The Loop. The public relations company said the club was owned by Gareth Botha, Wai-Szee Sing and Mark Lifman.

Mr Qually said since the LSRA started to assist residents with complaints about The Loop, there have been several emails between city officials and the association about noise issues. “Some of our concerns include that the City’s Environmental Health Department systems are outdated and out of tune with the rate of CBD urbanisation, the requirements of city developers and lack of strategic insight; and willingness to hide behind bureaucratic confusion. “In our correspondence with the City, we unsurprisingly received the usual retroactive and bureaucratic response from them, inasmuch as they are concerned about the ‘scourge of unwanted noise’ in the CBD and would like to have a meeting to discuss it further. “We have not responded, partly due to complete frustration and disbelief that yet again another meeting is required, but also to do some background research on how other cities are assisting their residents in resolving noise pollution issues,” he said. Mr Qually said the City was well aware of residents’ frustrations at clubs operating without licences

Mayoral Committee Member for Health Lungiswa James said the majority of complaints received by the City’s Health Department from the CBD relate to the noise made by night-clubs. “Some unscrupulous or ignorant new owners trade without the necessary business licences and therefore without the required soundproofing installed or change sound systems when they take over the clubs. “As a result of this trend, since 2009 the health department has moved from being reactive in its response to noise complaints to proactively increasing the number of night-time visits to the CBD to identify premises as soon as possible after they open or change ownership. “The success of this strategy is confirmed by the increase in fines and court cases instituted by staff of the health department relating to unlicensed places of entertainment operating in the CBD.

“In 2008 four cases were recorded, 2009, 2010, and 2011 saw an average of 25 cases a year on record,” he said. Mr James said that as with any contravention, action can only be taken as dictated within the confines of the legislation. “In this regard the penal provisions of the National Businesses Act of 1991 are woefully inadequate 20 years after it was promulgated. “We have therefore formed close working relationships with the South African Police Service, Law Enforcement as well as the Legal Section so that noise complaints in the CBD are prioritised and contraventions of any legislation, not just the failure to licence the premises, are acted upon,” he said. Mr James said with the Cape Town City Improvement District a pamphlet was drawn up for distribution to residents explaining how to deal with noise in the CBD.

When asked whether residents who feared victimisation could make anonymous complaints, Mr James said: “The Loop is trading without the necessary licence. In this case, residents can stay anonymous when lodging a complaint and the details of any complainants are not provided to the courts or to the nightclub owners”. He said the Business Act did not make provision for the closure of unlicensed premises by officials and had to be authorised by a magistrate.

However, Mr Qually said one of the association’s biggest concerns was how the City measures the success of its noise interventions. “From a residential perspective, measurement of success is quite simple. Has the noise been reduced to an acceptable level? “The City on the other hand, provides various internal performance statistics to prove that they are doing their job. From the LSRA records, it is without a doubt that noise pollution and unlicensed clubs are on the increase regardless of the rate of fines and legal interventions,” he said.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

He has had enough and can’t understand why City officials don’t take action …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 11th August 2011

Frustrated by a noisy club in Buiten Street, property developer, Geoff Madsen said he has had enough and can’t understand why City officials don’t take action. Mr Madsen is one of the developers of Flatrock Suites and said the Chez Ntemba nightclub continued to operate even though the City has confirmed that it is trading without a Health and Entertainment Licence. Mr Madsen said after he had taken Chez Ntemba to court for causing a noise nuisance it was instructed to close and fulfil the requirements set out by the City but it had failed to do so (“Noise battles continue”, CapeTowner, April 14).

The manager of the club had left and since then the noise had become unbearable. “When the manager, Lindi, left the noise became excessive. So one night I walked around the precinct from Joburg to Fiction to see where the noise was coming from. “One of the guys from Fiction took me to a room which overlooks Chez Ntemba and we could clearly hear that the noise was coming from there. “So I went to Chez Ntemba to try and sort it out. I was introduced to a man by the name of Serge who said he was the manager. “I took him and one of his DJs to my apartment to hear for themselves. “They said they would sort out the problem. However, the noise is now unbearable and I can’t find the manager anywhere. “The bass is so bad that I can’t even watch television from my couch without my whole body vibrating,” he said.

Mr Madsen said that like many other property developers he bought into the idea of developing the inner city to make it a great place to “live, play and work”, but he was worried that his investment was dwindling as many of the owners were now selling their apartments. “There are also hotel suites in the block and many guests check out in the early hours. Visitors have also been blogging about Flatrock Suites and the building is getting a bad reputation because people can’t sleep. “What makes it worse is that owners are selling their properties at 20% less than the market value,” he said. Last week Mr Madsen invited the CapeTowner to “experience” the noise.

The CapeTowner checked in on Friday August 5. The ambient sounds of nightclubs and cars passing by could be heard after 9pm; At 11pm, we could hear loud music and a DJ speaking but we could not pinpoint where the noise was coming from. We went into Buiten Street but there was no noise from Chez Ntemba. When we returned to the ninth floor apartment of Flatrock Suites loud music and bass could be heard from Chez Ntemba. The CapeTowner saw the roof of the club rattle along with the bass.

After two hours we called the Central City Improvement District’s (CCID) control room for assistance. The assistant said she would send a vehicle and later called back to say the official on the street could not hear any noise. When asked if a CCID vehicle which had a Law Enforcement Officer could see to the complaint, she said: “We only have one law enforcement officer and he is filling in a statement at Cape Town Central police station. We will send him when he is done”. The officer did not arrive. We then called the Metro Police for assistance and told the operator that the club did not have a licence. The operator said a vehicle would come soon. It did not arrive. The loud music and bass continued for most of the night and stopped shortly after 4.30am on Saturday August 6.

Byron Qually, convenor of the Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA), said he has had numerous discussions with restaurateurs in the area adjacent to the nightclub. “They relate the arrival of exhausted and desperate residents who are battling to cope with sleepless nights caused by Chez Ntemba’s noise pollution,” he said. Mr Qually said the association was aware of similar cases where residents have left their apartments because of noisy clubs. “It is a great shame that two of the first LSRA members have been forced to leave their Long Street home of 14 years, due to the performance of their managing agent. “The agent allowed a night-club, Fatback Soulbar, to set up in the building without obtaining the required approval from their residents.

“Expectedly, noise pollution disrupted the residents’ sleep, and after a lengthy and public dispute, the LSRA members had to leave their homes because the excessive noise continued,” he said. Mr Qually said that in Victoria Court, the residential block in which he lives, he has seen property owners lose income because tenants terminated lease agreements due to nightclub noise. “Unfortunately this trend is increasing, and in some cases this is due to residents not having the legal resources to take a club or managing agent to court, but also as is becoming evident, the extremely slow moving and largely ineffective City’s Health Department, who just seem unable to mediate or resolve nightclub noise disputes,” he said.

In previous comment provided by the City, Health Director, Dr Ivan Bromfield said the club was fined R1 000 on October 7, 2007 (for causing a noise disturbance). “Thereafter the owner was summonsed to court in February 2008 without the option of an admission of guilt fine. “On August 21, 2008 the court closed the premises until Friday August 27, 2010 for compliance with the requirements as it related to the emission of noise,” he said. Dr Bromfield confirmed that the club does not have a Health and Entertainment Licence and said according to the department’s records the last application was made in 2007 but said it had since been withdrawn. “The City Health department cannot close any premises. “It is the the court’s decision,” Dr Bomfield said.

The CapeTowner has tried on several occasions to contact the club’s management for comment. The previous manager who is known only as Lindi said she no longer worked at the club and referred the CapeTowner to Tony Muller, the club’s general manager. The CapeTowner has tried to contact Mr Muller on several times but he had not responded to questions the CapeTowner emailed him. The CapeTowner also tried to find the new manager known as Serge, but was told by the doorman he was not there.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.