NOISE fears have prompted councillors to pull the plug on a major Halloween party at Southsea Castle in a decision set to dismay hundreds of party-goers.
Organisers of next week’s Halloween Chaos at the Castle were blasted by councillors for ‘losing control’ of a series of raucous parties at the city’s historic battlement earlier in the year.
The noisy celebrations had sparked at least three complaints from angry Southsea residents and warnings from Portsmouth City Council’s environmental health team.
Yet despite having been ordered to keep things in check on numerous occasions by the council, a licensing sub-committee heard the team in charge of Southsea Castle Events failed to monitor noise levels.
It’s an error the events team will now pay the price for, now having to fork out at least £4,100 in refund costs to the 410 revellers already booked for next Friday’s now-axed halloween party.
Speaking after the decision, Councillor Scott Payter-Harris – who sits on the committee – said: ‘We loath to do stuff like this, it’s not something we enjoy doing. But at the end of the day everyone needs to play by the rules – this applicant didn’t.’
The committee heard the problems first started during an event at the castle on July 21, when residents complained to the council over the noise coming from a fundraiser for the Undercover Skatepark Project.
Michael Thorne, one of the council’s environmental health officers who objected to the halloween party, described how he arrived at the Castle at 10.10pm after an initial complaint an hour earlier.
He told the committee he asked the management team to ‘be careful’ of the noise coming from the marquee in the Castle grounds where the party was taking place.
Following this, he emailed Southsea Castle Events with a sound monitoring form and instructions on how to control music noise.
However, the hearing heard environmental health was again called after a wedding descended into chaos on September 30.
Mr Thorne said he was called at 12.27am and said he could ‘clearly hear and identify the words’ to ‘The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony’ from about 400 metres away while inside a resident’s home in South Parade.
Councillors grilled Simon Humphrey and his business partner Will Wright over the issue.
The pair said staff had tried to control the events, at points begging DJs and artists to keep the volume down – pleas which were ignored.
On the second event, Mr Wright said they were short-staffed and unable to monitor the noise from the wedding and maintain the bar.
A visibly annoyed Cllr Payter-Harris asked: ‘Throughout this process, would you admit you lost control of your event and your staff?’
Mr Wright admitted: ‘I would say we lost control of the entertainment that was at the events but not the staff themselves.’
Councillors refused to grant a temporary licence allowing them to stage the halloween event, saying it was ‘clear’ the applicants had ‘failed to, or adequately monitor’ the noise.
And while Mr Wright and Mr Humphrey ‘admitted honestly their failings’ the committee was ‘not convinced the appropriate steps are in place’ to prevent them from breaching conditions of their licence.