Save the Freebutt

The Freebutt today.

The Freebutt today.

This news broke last Wednesday but I’ve been busy recently and so I’m only writing about it now! One of Brighton’s longest-running venues, the Freebutt, is under threat of closure as a result of a noise complaint and subsequent Environmental Health Office investigation. As I put it on Facebook:

Many of you will have seen this already, but so what, it’s important. The Freebutt is facing closure due to ONE noise complaint. They are doing everything they can to solve the noise problem, but the EHO and the neighbour are preventing them from doing so. For a venue with decades of history to be shut down for such a bullshit reason would be a travesty.

This summary is a bit unfair on the EHO – they’re helping, just somewhat slowly – and the neighbour – who presumably has a legitimate complaint, but they’re not helping get it resolved except in the sense of “if the venue closes, the problem goes away”.

The Freebutt is presently owned by a small group of local music fans and entrepreneurs. They’re put a lot of work into ensuring the venue is shipshape and this is the only noise¬†complaint since they took ownership. Although since the redesign the giant pillar in the middle of the room is still a source of constant complaint, Brighton’s live music scene wouldn’t be the same without the ‘butt.

The Freebutt circa 1968.

The Freebutt circa 1968.

You can read the full story from the Freebutt here. The Argus has an article covering Brighton Council’s statements and some tedious, reactionary reader comments. There’s a petition you can sign here and a Facebook group here. The MP for the area is Caroline Lucas (Green) and the city councillors can be contacted from here.

The venue’s owners sent out an update 24 hours after the news and campaign broke which you can read below the cut.

Within the first 24 hours of our petition going live we have managed to get over 2400 signatures, that’s over 1.5% of the entire population of Brighton who are opposed to the unjust treatment of the Freebutt by the Environmental Health Department of the Brighton & Hove City Council and the single complainant.

It has been brought to our attention via the freedom of information act that in the 12 months since we took over the Freebutt there has only been one officially logged noise complaint against the venue, that’s over a 400% reduction in complaints logged to Environmental Health since we took over on 24th June 2009. Between 2004 and 24th June 2009 there was an average of 4.6 complaints per year.

Both of Brighton’s key independent record shops ‘Resident Music’ and ‘Rounder Records’ are now stocking physical petitions for people to sign.

Early supporters to have come onboard in the past 24 hours include:

National Radio DJs:
Steve Lamacq (BBC 6 Music) / Huw Stephens (BBC Radio 1) / Lauren Lavern (BBC 6 Music) / Rob Da Bank (BBC Radio 1) / John Kennedy (XFM)

Bands:
Kaiser Chiefs / Foals / Blood Red Shoes / The Pipettes / Dan Le Sac / Caribou / Esben & The Witch / Chris T-T / Chesney Hawkes

Record Labels:
Witchita / Bella Union / FatCat Records / Big Scary Monsters / City Slang / Sub Pop / Memphis Industries / Holy Roar / K Records

National Press:
NME.com / Pitchfork.com / CMU Daily

National Promoters:
SXSW / Eat Your Own Ears

Local Brighton Institutions:
Resident Music (record shop) / Rounder Records (record shop) / The Source Magazine / XYZ Magazine / The Komedia (venue) / The Brighton Centre (venue) / Concorde 2 (venue) / The Duke of Yorks (cinema) / Melting Vinyl (promotions) / Lout Promotions / The Great Escape (music festival)

Comments
2 Responses to “Save the Freebutt”
  1. Alan Stone says:

    It’s unfair to blame the environmental health staff who are legally obliged to investigate all noise complaints. Likewise nobody should be vilifying anyone for making a complaint. While the council regards live music as really important, the law of the land regards people’s right to a quiet home life as sacrosanct. The house was there when the current licencees took the pub on.
    For the record, the council does not feel the pub needs to close and is not seeking to close it.
    We’re still working with the pub and the neighbours and feel it can be resolved with the goodwill we’re offering – and expecting from all sides
    Alan Stone, Brighton & Hove City Council communications department

  2. Shaun CG says:

    Thanks for commenting, Alan. I’m very pleased to hear that everyone involved is working towards a solution and hope that it will prove satisfactory to all involved.

    My comments regarding the EHO reflect reports from the Freebutt regarding the heel-dragging of officials in the face of an EHO-imposed deadline, and my comments regarding the neighbour being uncooperative reflect the same. At no point do I vilify anybody, and I certainly don’t want the neighbour to be blamed for wanting a quiet home life nor EHO staff for doing their jobs.