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Students given their ball back by councillors

PAST: Our 2014 article on the original noise disturbance
PAST: Our 2014 article on the original noise disturbance

CANTERBURY Christ Church University’s summer ball has been given the green light after bosses pledged no repeat of last year’s noise disruption. At a meeting of the licensing sub committee, councillors allowed the university to serve alcohol until 3am and play music outside until 1.30am on June 5, the day of their ball. The ruling also covers all their future summer balls. The university has agreed to six conditions, including no entry for anyone under 18, and a minimum of 25 security staff on site at all times. Police received more than 70 complaints about last year’s event, after an outside gig at the city centre campus kept hundreds of residents awake into the early hours. At the committee meeting, Geoff Marsh, the university’s licence and facilities director, promised that lessons had been learnt. He said:

“We have worked very hard to make sure there is no repeat of last year As far as possible, we will be keeping sound pollution to a minimum. We will also not be running any alcohol promotions on the night. We do not advocate ‘silly drinking’.”

Previous summer bails had been organised entirely by the student union, an approach which Mr Marsh admitted was “not the right way”. Speaking on behalf of the union, event and marketing coordinator Andrew Cameron said even though their licence permits them to serve alcohol until 3am, the plan is for the event to start winding down soon after 1am. The North Holmes Road entrance to the university will also be closed and guarded by staff on the night to protect nearby houses from drunk students on their way home. Mr Cameron said:

“The residents are very important to us, and we wanted to show them how seriously we take it.”

Everyone who complained to the university last year has been given a number they can call, and officers will be on hand with sound monitors all night, enabling them to turn down the volume if necessary. Despite these assurances, councillors still had some questions about the ball. Councillor Ashley Clarke drew attention to the warning in their application that “some music performances/performers may use language which may cause offence”; and the “provocative costumes” of stilt walkers and other performers at the event. He said he was worried there might be “over 18 video displays right next to a school where children are boarding [King’s], and “the possibility of f and c words blasting out of outdoor speakers. While Mr Cameron said that was “not the intention” of their musicians, and the provocative costumes largely referred to lycra, and the possibility of male singers performing with their shirts off, it would be “impossible” to guarantee that no swear words would occur during the ball. Some of the residents living in nearby streets wrote in to the council to argue against granting the licence. Caroline Latham, of Havelock Street, said she had been having problems with the annual ball for years, adding:

“CCCU has run the ball for a number of years and have always exceeded any bounds of common respect with noises beyond any reasonable level and noise continued for ridiculously long hours and far too early in the morning.”

Herne Bay Times, April 22nd 2015

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