Manchester City Council has spent nearly £90,000 fighting its legal battle with the Night & Day venue over a noise abatement order that was issued in 2021. When other costs are also taken into account - including those incurred by the venue - the total amount of money spent on this legal battle could probably have bought the flat where the noise issues that caused the dispute occurred.  

According to the Manchester Evening News, figures revealed via a freedom of information request show that the council has spent £33,500 on external legal services and £29,525 on acoustic testing as part of its response to Night & Day's appeal of the noise abatement order. 

In addition to that, the local authority's internal legal team has spent nearly 264 hours on the case, while licensing officers have spent 223 hours. It's estimated that that equates to an additional £26,099.03 in costs.

The total costs are therefore £89,124.03, which equates to 6104 hours of time for someone working at the national living wage. That means the council could have paid three full-time employees to support the city's cultural sector and night-time economy rather than fighting Night & Day over the noise abatement order. 

Back in 2022, Mark Davyd from the Music Venue Trust proposed that the council should buy the flat where the noise issues occurred and make it available to the venue for accommodating touring artists. 

Night & Day argues that the noise issues today are basically the result of failings at the council more than 20 years ago when planning permission was given for the development of neighbouring residential properties. The noise abatement order stems from a single complaint from a neighbouring resident and complying with it would impact on the venue's late night activity, making the business unviable. 

Given that the legal battle over the noise abatement order has incurred plenty of other costs beyond that £90,000 - not least the £100,000 Night & Day is thought to have spent  - it's getting to the point where the total costs incurred could have funded the purchase of the property where the complainant used to live. And legal costs are still being incurred, with the council vowing to appeal if things don't go its way when the judge hearing the case issues her decision. 

"The neighbouring flat was estimated to be worth circa £250,000", Davyd tells CMU. "That market price reflects the fact that it is in a neighbourhood where noise would be accepted and expected. The value of the premises is reduced by its location. In the event Manchester City Council succeeds through its court action in lowering the noise from Night & Day, which would result in the closure of the venue since its purpose is to make noise, then the value of the flat would increase". 

"However", he adds, "it is currently the case that the legal and administrative costs between MCC and Night & Day could already have bought the flat at the current market rate based on the current locality conditions". 

Challenged about the £90,000 that has been spent on this legal battle, a council spokesperson said, "It's important to stress that the vast majority of these costs relate to the court case, which was brought by Night & Day, rather than the council, to contest the noise abatement notice". 

"Throughout this process, over many months, we have sought to reach an amicable resolution with Night & Day through discussion to agree acceptable sound levels which would work for everyone - without the need for costly court proceedings", they added. "Regrettably this has not proved possible, which is why the matter has had to be determined in court".

Responding to that statement, Davyd adds, "Night & Day have tried literally dozens of times to agree the removal of the noise abatement notice via a settlement on sound levels which would allow them to continue trading". 

"MCC want noise level conditions which would stop their club nights", he explains. "If they stop the club nights, the venue closes. So despite all the statements and the kind words, it is MCC that have pursued this matter through the courts since what they want, no matter what they say and how many compassionate statements they make, will close the venue. The fact they have to keep being told this over and over again is really quite frustrating". 

Having dragged on since 2021, the dispute between MCC and Night & Day was last in court in January. We are currently awaiting the judge's ruling.

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