Belfast Telegraph

Neighbours feared Lambeg 'super drum causing instantaneous deafness'

Deadline set for neighbours to end row

Kelley Sterritt
Kelley Sterritt
Her husband Richard Sterritt, who died in 2016

By Staff Reporter

A neighbour involved in a dispute with a Markethill family over the playing of Lambeg drums has told a court he feared they could develop a “super drum” capable of reaching 200 decibels and causing “instantaneous” deafness.

Those involved in the row that has been rumbling on since last year have been warned by a judge that it can’t go on beyond the end of this month.

The family of Richard Sterritt, who died in 2016 aged 52, have a long tradition of drumming.

But last year a complaint was lodged by neighbour Kenneth Hartley, who objected to the noise.

Mr Sterritt’s widow Kelley received a noise abatement notice from Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council last August instructing her that the drums could only be played at certain times, amounting to one hour per week.

The council stipulated the days and times when the drumming  would be acceptable.

She launched a challenge to this at Armagh Magistrates Court.

Her lawyer said there was no change in recent times to the amount or intensity of drumming at their home, and questioned what had changed for the council to bring about the action.

It was stressed that Mrs Sterritt accepted the drums were loud but they had been played for years without any complaints from neighbours.

However, she said she was willing to work towards an accommodation in the matter.

A council lawyer contended it acted after the noise complaint was received.

At that time Mr Hartley told the court the noise was having a negative impact on his family’s life and cited concerns that the Sterritt family could develop a drum “capable of reaching 200 decibels and causing instantaneous deafness”.

At a preliminary hearing last September the Sterritt family was given permission to continuing playing the drums when they please, pending the outcome of the challenge.

By January District Judge Peter King decided mediators should be introduced in the hope a resolution can be found, otherwise he would make a ruling.

Mediation was commenced but the issue remains unresolved, with the council seeking more time.

At the most recent court sitting Judge King asked Mr Hartley if mediation was ongoing.

He replied: “It was on for a time. Things improved somewhat but it (drumming) is still ongoing, especially at weekends.”

Judge King added: “The council want mediation to continue.

“My view is this can’t go on beyond the end of this month.

“The council are the lead party and it’s my view they want more time to let mediation run its course.”

He agreed to an adjournment until June 25.

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