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Tennent’s Vital concert gets green light

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A LARGE-scale rock concert that prompted a flurry of noise complaints last year has been given a provisional go-ahead for 2013 and 2014.

The Tennent’s Vital concert, which drew tens of thousands of revellers across two days in August, was so loud it could be heard as far away as Comber, according to some reports.

It was staged at the Boucher Road playing fields in south Belfast, and some suggested a change of venue after 120 residents contacted Belfast City Council on the first night alone. Half rang with complaints, with more calls following on the second night.

But now the playing fields look set to host the event again this year. The council’s parks and leisure committee recommended granting up to three concerts on the land between August 19 and 22, 2013, and again in 2014.

Each concert could attract 45,000 people, with a scheduled shut-off time of 11pm.

In return, the council would get £20,000 per concert.

The minutes of the council meeting in December record that “through closer communication and co-operation with the promoter, improvements could be made regarding noise management”.

But they added: “Given the scale and nature of the events proposed it cannot be guaranteed that noise disturbance will be completely eliminated”.

Permission is subject to all “operational issues” being resolved to the council’s satisfaction.

The decision must be ratified by the full council on Monday, January 7, when it approves the committee’s minutes.

However, the council added that the concert organisers also need support from their licensing committee, which grants entertainment licences.

Responding to complaints in August, SDLP councillor Pat McCarthy had said some people would “ban Christmas” if they could.

And yesterday Mr McCarthy, who chairs the health and environmental services committee responsible for noise management, said: “How many noise objections did we have? There are 280,000 people in this city. So how many did we have? A handful. I think that puts it into perspective.”

He added: “We could move it to the Sperrin Mountains. We could put it there. Maybe the sheep would be annoyed and then we’d have to move it somewhere else. Let’s get it into perspective. It’s a couple of days a year, when tens of thousands of people come out and enjoy themselves.

“I’m just tired listening to people who are negative, negative, negative and have nothing to contribute to the life and wellbeing of our city.”

After the previous gigs he received one “abusive phone call” from a “serial complainer who was put on this earth to complain” – but many were supportive.

Last year’s concerts featured heavy rock act the Foo Fighters and psychedelic rockers the Stone Roses. Most residents who heard the music had been supportive of the concert when spoken to by the News Letter.

But Eileen Fee, a long-time resident of Osborne Park not far from the venue, said she had believed that after last year’s complaints the event would not be staged there again.

She said: “The reaction is it’s terrible. It’s not a question of a couple of hours of a concert – I wouldn’t complain if it was. But it starts around 4pm with practising.

“Quite often gigs go on which I can hear, I’m not sure if it’s in west Belfast, but it’s never anything like that, it’s never anything you’d complain about.”

When told the event may take place again this year, Martin Richards, 55, and from the Lisburn Road, let out a deep sigh.

He said: “So there’s obviously no consideration for public opinion. There are other venues. The Titanic Quarter venue is superb, and more than capable of holding the numbers.”

He said he “recognises completely” that Belfast needs concerts such as this, and said it was only the venue that was in question. Concert organiser MCD was contacted for a comment but no one responded yesterday.

 

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