Racism claims as reggae or dance music is ‘banned’ at church

A businessman has accused Shropshire Council of having an ‘elitist rule’ on musical tastes after being served with a noise abatement notice following events at a private church.

Chris Jones, who owns St Anne’s Church in Lea Cross
Chris Jones, who owns St Anne’s Church in Lea Cross

Chris Jones, who keeps St Anne’s Church in Lea Cross, near Shrewsbury, accused the council of ageism and racism after he was told not to play amplified dance or reggae music at the building.

Mr Jones, who also owns the Albion Vaults pub in Shrewsbury, said the council began proceedings against him following two events at the church last year, where drum and bass and reggae music were played.

Following an appeal hearing at Telford Magistrates Court, the court adjourned so that the council could suggest measures Mr Jones could implement to prevent there being a problem in future.

Mr Jones said he was happy to do this, but said that instead of coming up with a measurable sound limit an agreed distance from the building, the authority instead issued him with a vague requirement not to play certain types of music.

In an email to Mr Jones, the council said: “From our point of view it is likely that any amplified dance music, reggae, trance or similar music played at the church is likely to create a noise nuisance.

"This is because this type of music or event will be played at high volume that would be likely to travel easily into nearby premises.”

'Daft'

Mr Jones said he was surprised by the council’s reply, and said it was inappropriate for what was a meeting place for people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.

He said it could also affect his plans to have comedy folk band The Wurzels perform at the church.

“The idea of an elitist’s rule on music styles is not acceptable, barring forms of music is daft,” he said.

“I’m not having anything to do with some seeming ageist, racist bar on forms of music. The court was made aware The Wurzels are planned to perform at the church.

“Am I supposed to tell The Wurzels they cannot play reggae tracks or have any dance music or my licence is under threat?

“My friend, who plays in a reggae band, and has cancer wishes to have a wake in the church one day.

“Are they suggesting I inform him the music he loves cannot be played by his friends?”

Councillor Gwilym Butler, cabinet member for regulatory services at Shropshire Council, said: “This inquiry relates to ongoing proceedings and therefore we cannot comment on the particulars of the case.

"All local authorities have a legal obligation to investigate complaints and allegations of nuisance, such as noise, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Shropshire Council considers both its equality duties and its responsibilities when investigating nuisance complaints.”

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