Cocktail lounge ‘a public nuisance’

JON HOUZET

A POPULAR Port Alfred nightspot has been recognised as “a public nuisance” by the Ward 10 committee.

This follows several letters about Barmuda cocktail lounge from residents and holidaymakers who complained about loud music over the festive season, drunk patrons, the towpath being blocked and alleged flouting of the liquor laws.

Introducing the item on the agenda in last week’s committee meeting, ward councillor Ross Purdon said he had received “heated phone calls” about the issue.

Committee member Lynne Nettelton(correct), being one of the complainants, recused herself from the ensuing discussion.

The committee considered the letters before debating the issue.

Nettelton’s husband, attorney Mark Nettelton, wrote that Barmuda’s trading activities had caused him “considerable distress” over the festive season.

The “principal nuisance” was “a persistent ‘doosh, doosh, doosh’ base sound” emanating from the premises, he wrote.

Nettelton and other complainants, including Lewis Coleman and Clive Househam, also alleged liquor was being sold to underage patrons at Barmuda.

Nettelton further claimed Barmuda sold liquor to drunk patrons and complained that people often drove the wrong way down Van der Riet Street, which is a one-way.

Leon Hensel, who said he and his family were regular holidaymakers in Port Alfred, complained that the tow path adjacent to Barmuda was blocked off during a music concert and an entrance fee requested.

Coleman, who runs a guest house, echoed this complaint. He also stated guests were “kept awake by absurdly loud noise (music, revving of engines and shouting in the parking area)”.

Househam said the “audio intrusion” started as far back as the Varsity Boat Races in 2011.

Hensel also complained about litter left on the river bank and in the river itself after the events.

Nettelton said a petition had been sent to the Eastern Cape Liquor Board, SAPS and relevant officials at the municipality but had received “no meaningful response”.

Committee members Rick Pryce and Warwick Heny said the complaints seemed to stem mostly from the festive season.

“Unfortunately it’s adjoining residential property and people do have rights,” said Gill Wansell.

Committee member Clinton Millard said he had dealt with similar complaints in his years as a pub owner, and regretted he never got together with complainants to talk.

“The people of the area should get together with the business owners and councillor and come to an agreement,” Millard said.

“Barmuda has brought great bands to town, including an act that opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. If we put pressure on them, then we’ll lose them. Nobody’s done what they’ve done – they’ve used their initiative,” he said.

Community protection services director Nombulelo Booysen-Willy said noise levels should not exceed 85 decibels, but she admitted the municipality had not taken a measurement.

Angus Schlemmer urged the committee to decide whether Barmuda was a public nuisance so that Booysen-Willy could act on their recommendation.

He said the municipality was obligated to enforce the bylaws, which could include “shutting the nuisance down”.

Together with his committee, Purdon acknowledged Barmuda was “a public nuisance based on the correspondence” and acknowledged there were bylaws that address the issue. The committee further recommended that the municipality facilitate a meeting of all stakeholders.

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