From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 31st March 2011
An irate Burg Street resident is so fed up with a noisy pub in her street that she has resorted to all sorts of desperate measures to get the owners to turn down the volume including calling Mayco member for Safety and Security Alderman JP Smith for help. Quahnita Samie said the O’Driscoll’s Irish Pub and Restaurant on the corner of Hout and Burg streets caused a disturbance on St Patrick’s Day (Thursday March 17).
She said the pub continues to play loud music even though the City has taken the owner to court for being a noise nuisance and trading without a Health and Entertainment licence. She claimed that owner Alan Dunne and his girlfriend Zelda Holtzman, former Western Cape deputy provincial police commissioner, were interfering with police officers and stopping them from taking action. “I have a letter from the City which clearly states that the pub’s owner does not have the relevant licence and it is not allowed to play loud music, but Ms Holtzman kept interfering and telling officers they had a licence,” she said. She said after calling various police agencies including law enforcement, Metro Police and SAPS she became fed-up after not receiving any help.
Ms Samie said out of desperation she called Mr Smith in the early hours of the morning for assistance. “When I phoned him, he told me about the public places and the prevention of noise nuisance by-law and the proposed amendments which will allow City officials to impound the sound equipment of noisy pubs, clubs and restaurants. He seemed unable to assist so I decided to leave my home for the evening,” she said. However, Mr Smith arrived at Burg Street to see for himself, but by then Ms Samie had already left. Mr Smith said he arrived at the pub and tried to speak to the owner.“There was an obvious noise disturbance, I have never been to the pub before but I could hear the music from Strand Street,” he said.
Mr Smith said he called the Metro Police for assistance and tried to speak to the owner. He said an argument started between himself and Mr Dunne, who he said was “belligerent, aggressive and unpleasant”. “He stood for 30 minutes just insulting me. When the Metro Police were trying to issue a fine, Mr Dunne refused to give his name. He continued to argue with me and I tried to explain that because he had no noise abatement he was breaking the law and causing a nuisance to residents. He said that only one resident had complained but I informed him that it didn’t matter how many residents complained the point is the pub was breaking the law,” Mr Smith said.
When asked whether he could confirm Ms Samie’s allegations that Ms Holtzman was interfering, Mr Smith said: “She was definitely interceding by giving officers inaccurate information. “I had to continually refer them to their fine books showing them that the pub was in fact breaking the law and it needed to be fined.” However, Mr Dunne has denied all the allegations and said the pub was a respectable and quiet establishment. He said he was not aggressive towards Mr Smith and said in his opinion the Metro Police were bullied into issuing a fine. “Mr Smith came in here as if he was the chief of police. I later learned that he was a councillor and an Alderman,” Mr Dunne said. Mr Dunne confirmed that he was in a relationship with Ms Holtzman but denied that she interfered by giving Metro Police officers inaccurate information. “There were no grounds for police to take action as the bar was not transgressing any law so no, she did not interfere,” he said.
However, Mr Smith said he responded to the complaint to observe whether or not the allegations made by Ms Samie were true. He said Metro Police officers issued a fine based on the fact that the music could be heard outside the venue. Complaints Last year, Ms Samie spoke out about how she was affected by the noise (“Pub refuses to cork it”, CapeTowner, November 11). Ms Samie made several complaints to the City’s health department and has submitted affidavits. She first moved to the area in June 2009. She said the noise was unbearable and first raised her concerns with City officials in November 2009.
Executive director for the City’s health department Dr Ivan Bromfield said his department received the first complaint in 2009 and a warning letter was issued to the pub stating that they are trading without an appropriate health and entertainment business licence as required by the Businesses Act of 1991 and that they should apply for the necessary licence. The CapeTowner contacted the pub for comment at the time but the previous manager, who only identified herself as Claire, said she would see if she could get a response from the owner, Alan Dunne. No response was received.
Ms Samie is now a witness in this court case but said she was having trouble getting law enforcement agencies to help on St Patrick’s Day. The licence Mr Dunne said the pub first opened its doors in December 2006 and at that time it was known as Catu Irish Pub. The name was changed as he felt it was too cryptic and said the public weren’t aware that it was an Irish Pub and said he was the single owner. He said the first time he received noise complaints was when Ms Samie moved into the area. He said he did not apply for a health and entertainment licence as he had a liquor licence which shows he can play loud and live music as long as it did not cause a nuisance or disturbance to the neighbours. “I have to state, however, that it is an alleged noise, we have never had a problem with noise,” he said. He said his licence made provision for loud noise. Mr Dunne said he was informed that he needed to apply for a health and entertainment licence but said it applied only to establishments that play live music. He said he had applied for a health and entertainment licence but never followed it up as in his opinion it referred to live music and said the pub didn’t really have live bands performing.
However, on St Patrick’s Day when Ms Samie and Mr Smith alleged the incident occurred, the pub had a live band playing. Mr Dunne said he was being harassed by Ms Samie who he said made several calls to police officers and then accused them of not doing their job. He said the pub was only issued with fines after she accused them of not doing their job. When asked if it was his view that the pub was being fined because it was causing a noise nuisance, Mr Dunne said: “Absolutely not, there are occasions like St Patrick’s Day which is celebrated all over the world. And there is noise but not the kind of noise that causes a disturbance. Police have to respond to a complaint. It got to the point on St Patrick’s Day when people were on the street, but were moved inside and the police were happy. “But Ms Samie was not pleased and called the police again and another van arrived.”
In November Dr Ivan Bromfield confirmed that the pub was trading without a health and entertainment license. He said the City received complaints from Ms Samie. The matter was investigated and a warning letter was issued to the pub informing the owner that it was trading without the necessary licence. He said all premises keeping or conducting a night club or discothèque are required, in terms of the Business Act, to apply for the necessary health and entertainment licence. When asked what requirements establishments needed to fulfil before the licence can be issued, Dr Bromfield said: “A noise impact assessment and a noise management plan must be submitted to the City. These reports, compiled by an accredited acoustic engineer, must be to the satisfaction of the City. Any soundproofing measures, required by such reports, must be implemented and certified by the engineer and must be finally installed to the satisfaction of the City”.
Mr Dunne said he did not have to apply for a health and entertainment licence as the pub did not have live bands playing. Dr Bromfield said that all premises where live music, bands and shows took place needed to be in possession of a business licence issued by a licensing authority such as the City. “A licence issued by the Liquor Board is not done in terms of this Act and does not exclude any business from complying with the conditions contemplated in terms of the Business Act,” Mr Bromfield said. He said the City had received two noise impact assessment reports from the pub, but both were rejected due to non-compliance. Dr Bromfield said since the last report, the case has been postponed three times and the next court date is scheduled for Thursday, May 19.
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