The owner of a ‘gay’ bar in Bury St Edmunds has claimed noise complaints about his establishment are insincere and motivated by prejudice.
Bar Milan opened in St John’s Street last October hosting karaoke on Thursdays, 80s on Fridays and ‘music of the times’ on Saturdays, when a drag queen makes an appearance. It serves tapas food and closes at 1am.
Acting on noise complaints about the venue, St Edmundsbury Borough Council has scheduled a licence review hearing for July, aimed at reducing its hours of operation.
A council spokesman said ‘justifiable’ complaints had been made about ‘drinkers who have gone out the front door for a cigarette, and noise from within the premises’.
The bar’s director Coady L-Rhys said: “Bar Milan is trying to provide a service to those people who don’t feel comfortable in mainstream society. It’s aimed at the gay clientele and this is a witch hunt.”
He said he had introduced regular staff patrols outside the bar and had offered to install a second door and extra soundproofing but had not been given adequate time to do so.
“I feel cheated and I feel the gay community of Bury has taken a big hit,” said Mr L-Rhys, adding, “I will be attending the hearing and I will be fighting, not just for Bar Milan, but for the gay community of Bury.”
The council spokesman said the decision to carry out a licence review was ‘not taken lightly or often’, adding: “The fact remains that the operators opened their business without planning permission .
“Had they sought permission our environmental health officers, at the very least, could have requested better measures to reduce the potential for disturbance to the residents living nearby.”