Yorkshire tinnitus sufferer calls for stricter measures over noise levels at live music gigs

A former councillor in Scarborough has called for a change to the law claiming a music gig in the spa town has "ruined" his life.

Mark Vesey, after a music night at the Spa Grand Hall in July, claims the noise levels left him with a persistent whistling in his ears. Now suffering from tinnitus, he said he can no longer hear the birds sing because of the high pitched sound.

The venue insists all guidelines were followed but Mr Vesey argues there should be stricter measures. Everyone is at risk of hearing damage after just 15 minutes in a nightclub, he said. Concert venues should be forced to monitor levels, he argues. He is also calling for noise levels to be better publicised.

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"Perhaps there is the ‘free choice’ argument, people are allowed to damage their hearing if they want to," he said. "But choice is not free if the information is not there."

Mark VeseyMark Vesey
Mark Vesey

Tinnitus is thought to affect around 7m people in the UK. Mr Vesey, who staged a protest outside the spa venue in August, has also written to his MP, to the Minister for Health, to the Health Safety Executive (HSE), Tinnitus UK and the RNID.

The HSE has declined to investigate further, as there is insufficient evidence that exposure levels in the hall were above recommendations.

The issue isn't covered by law, Mr Vesey outlines, only by guidance from the HSE. This is despite warnings from the Tinnitus Society that exposure to higher noise levels for the length of a concert could be damaging to hearing.

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The council-run venue did publicise the warning, he acceded, but argued it should be more prominent.

"The government now regulates sugar and salt levels in our food so why are they not regulating sound levels for the public to stop us being injured?" he said. "Why is there such a gap between what HSE guidance says and what professional audiologists say? Why isn't there a legal limit?"

North Yorkshire Council’s assistant director for culture and leisure, Jo Ireland, said: “While there is no specific legislation setting noise limits for audience exposure at entertainment venues, we operate all of our venues in line with the relevant Health and Safety Executive guidance.”

Mr Vesey is setting up a Scarborough tinnitus support group, contact [email protected].

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