Sweeney has his say

SIR – In the past few weeks I have read in the Welwyn & Hatfield Times of MP Grant Shapps campaign to save your local. I ve also read that the Doctor s Tonic is the most successful Greene King pub in the country and they deserve it. I wish I could

SIR - In the past few weeks I have read in the Welwyn & Hatfield Times of MP Grant Shapps' campaign to 'save your local'.

I've also read that the Doctor's Tonic is the most successful Greene King pub in the country and they deserve it. I wish I could applaud both but I cannot.

My house is very close to the local pub - The Doctor's Tonic - I can confirm that it is very successful and is so crowded that there are often 200 to 300 people standing in the front garden area.

I have made two decisions that I rue to this day.


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1. Agreeing to a planning request for a restaurant with bar.

2. To drop my objections to acoustic nights at the Green Room so local acts could get a sense of performing.

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This is now a successful venue for rock bands.

What is my problem? - Noise!

It comes from people using the front garden area and sounds of music, disco, karaoke and live bands, when doors and windows are open. I find I cannot concentrate on TV or work researching various projects that I may be involved in.

It is also affecting my health and sleep.

How can my problem be resolved? By stopping noise going beyond the perimeter of the Doctor's Tonic and preventing it entering my area.

What have I done to my property to prevent noise entering?

1. Installed double glazing.

2. Installed cavity wall installation.

3. Grew dense shrubbery to three meters high.

The result has been that, if I stand in Church Road adjacent to my property, I hear little noise.

But if I am in my back garden, where my lounge is situated, I can hear a person sitting in the garden of the Doctor's Tonic cough!

It is as clear as a bell.

Why this is I really do not know.

Greene King in all its applications states that it is aware that the pub is in a residential area and will minimise any disruption to nearby properties.

So what have they done to prevent noise breakout?

1. Professionally soundproofed the Green Room at the back and sides, but not the front. Instead three vents were installed in the front so passing trade will hear the music and call in. This has now been partially soundproofed by the current manager at his own cost.

2. They have grown a sparse hedge of 1.25 meters high to the front of the seating area to stop noise breakout.

3. Ignored original planning restrictions of 11pm and were rewarded by WHC planning committee with extensions to midnight. They are now ignoring these restrictions and once again WHC is doing nothing.

4. They are ignoring conditions submitted in their entertainment licence.

What have WHC departments done to protect my amenities by using their professional knowledge?

The council has been being economical with the truth about the implications of decisions it's made.

I myself was recommended by the Environmental Law Foundation to excellent solicitors, which I employed but in the end proved too costly for me.

Questions put to the borough council remain unanswered.

Planning restrictions placed on the Doctor's Tonic have been found to be risible by Greene King in the wording being used and are not enforceable.

The planning department feels that a hedge 1.25 meters high conforms to planning guidelines and does its job in preventing noise breakout affecting adjacent residential properties and their amenities.

It was not fully explained to me by WHC personnel that acoustic nights could turn into rock venues unless conditions could be put in place.

What would I like to happen in the future?

1. Noise breakout does not extend beyond the perimeter of the Doctor's Tonic and that people using the pub have a great time.

2. That when people use this pub, especially after midnight, they are aware that some people have to sleep

3. That WHC employees who are responsible for planning, licensing and entertainment licenses explain the full possible outcome of any decisions undertaken and use their expertise to protect the amenities of residents, especially where night-time economy is concerned.

After observing various council meetings where business is a bedfellow of council decision-makers it is clear councillors vote on policy and not what is right.

It brings back a memory of a panel game which had Frank Muir on it. They were asked to give a collective noun to a group of politicians. After a minute or two he said, 'a lack...of principles'.

I would go along with that.

When I moved to this house, the pub was our Cottage Hospital.

How I have ended up spending many hours writing letters, sleepless nights and my health being affected and still ending up with present situation is beyond me.

So be very careful, readers of the WHT. Do not give your permission for a restaurant with bar or acoustic nights, or believe promises various business organisations make for various ventures are honourable.

George Sweeney, Longcroft Lane, WGC.

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