Rhythms festival noise increase granted

A row over sound levels at Rhythms of the World that threatened the future of the festival has been resolved, with councillors deciding last night (Monday) that sound levels can be increased.

Organisers of the festival, now in its twentieth year, applied to North Herts District Council for an increase from the current 65dB maximum to 75dB, arguing that the current level is too low for The Priory site, with some bands unable to meet the requirement. The application divided residents in the town, with over 100 residents near the site signing a petition against the move and nearly 900 signing up to an increase. Both petitions were handed into the council earlier this month.

At a licensing committee meeting at the council offices yesterday evening, councillors came down in favour of upping the noise level.

Gill Hannington, chair of the festival trustees, said the council has made the right decision. “Now the festival will be even more enjoyable for the performers who come from across the UK and around the world, the hundreds of volunteers who run the event and the thousands of people who attend it.

“We always endeavour to run a safe and enjoyable festival for all and recognise some people are inconvenienced by the activities over the weekend, but believe this is far outweighed by the thousands of people who come to Hitchin each July to enjoy the event.

“We also hope that with this increase in sound levels we will be able to welcome festival favourites, such as Toque Tambor, back to future events. For us, Toque Tambor is what Rhythms of the World is all about – a world music act derived from the local community. And yet the previous sound levels inflicted on us meant we weren’t able to accommodate them at this year’s festival.”