In Red Tape by Clyde Mooney

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The nanny state has spread to Sydney’s inner west, with legendary entertainment venue the Harold Park Hotel forced to end its Sunday arvo live music due to a noise complaint.

The Harold Park (HPH) is a landmark pub in Glebe that has been bringing live entertainment in the form of comedy nights, theatre-sports, politics in the pub and live musicians for decades. It has hosted comedic legends such as Robin Williams and Australian stalwarts Mikey Robbins and Wil Anderson, and seen countless bands. The Hoodoo Gurus even filmed their 1984 hit My Girl at the pub.

For the past six years the HPH has offered live music in its outdoor courtyard, supporting local acoustic artists and proving popular with the local residents. Owner Will Ryan says it was a pretty laid-back affair.

“It’s not like we are playing heavy metal until three in the morning,” he explained. “It’s pretty laid-back. But Council received a complaint from a new resident and we have had to shut it down.”

The pub forms part of a building housing residents, and Ryan is head of the body corporate, as well as an AHA delegate and active in local liquor accords. No titles have changed hands in the block in several years, but a new, unidentified occupant has reportedly submitted a complaint that the music permeates their residence.

“Pub been here 137 years, this anonymous mob move in two weeks, and our Sunday arvo local entertainment is gone. Thanks to all our fabulous musicians and patrons over these past years – it’s been beautiful,” said a notice on the Hotel’s Facebook page last Friday.

Under the jurisdiction of City of Sydney (CoS) Council, Clover Moore’s office was forced to act on the complaint, and cited that the pub’s development consent technically prohibited live entertainment in the courtyard, although a few feet away inside the premises was fine.

CoS confirmed to The Music that it is working with the HPH to find a solution – in line with its Live Music & Performance Action Plan. This may involve help negotiating red tape, and with costs surrounding expensive acoustic engineer reports and modifications.

“The City’s advisor for live music and performance has already been in contact with the Harold Park Hotel to discuss amending their development consent to allow live entertainment in the courtyard, and about the City’s Business Improvement Grants Program, which provide up to $5,000 matched funding for venues needing to undertake acoustic reports in relation to live music or performance.”

The Triple M Grill Team thoughtfully brought a bagpiper to mock the prevention of live music at the HPH

Ryan told PubTIC that CoS have thus far been very helpful, and he is hopeful an amicable solution can be found to allow the serenity of song to continue.

“On Sunday we had a crowd of locals turn up in protest – telling me they were here to ‘not hear the music’. I do think something’s broken when a newcomer to the area can spoil it for everyone.”

In the context of Sydney’s precarious relationship with the industry of music and musicians, a sector left bereft of many of the venues that came to define Australian pub rock, Triple M’s Grill Team showed up at the HPH with a bagpiper to make a rambunctious point to the nay-sayers.