Noisy bars near Jolly Harbour residences are driving away tourists and putting local jobs in jeopardy

A resident is complaining about the operations of bars in the Jolly Harbour area –on the south side of the Valley Road, where, in recent years, several such establishments have opened.

Households complain that they play deafening music, very often later than 4 a.m. It is also  alleged that a striptease joint is about to open in the nrighbourhood.

The disgruntled families note that theirs is a residential area, with many rental villas, hotels and restaurants, all targeting the tourism sector, which is an essential component of the Jolly Harbour economy.

Reports say that angry tourists constantly complain  about the excessively loud noise that spoils their vacation in an otherwise idyllic location.

Businesses claim that, as a result of the loud music and other activities, tourists write damaging reviews and regularly demand refunds and compensation for ruined holidays.

It is alleged that, sometime early last year (2022), when this problem became a major issue, a number of owners contacted and met with Minister of Tourism Charles “Max” Fernandez, who referred them to the Commissioner of Police.

Reportedly, after they complained to the Commissioner, no action was taken;  therefore, a lawyer was engaged to contact the minister of health, who it was  believed had the responsibility and the legal authority to address this excessive noise problem and reported health cases.

However, Sir Molwyn Joseph allegedly refused to respond to any formal letters; refused to return calls; and refused to agree to any requested meeting, the residents claim.

It has now been 12 months and no one has addressed the problem, which has gotten worse, they say.  As a consequence, owners are putting their properties on the market and exiting the rental business.

It is alleged that repeat bookings are no longer taking place, and there is a community of locals whose livelihoods are at risk.  These include managers, cleaners, gardeners, taxi drivers and so on.

According to one resident, “Tourists do not frequent these bars and strip tease bars; instead they come with their families to enjoy Antigua, (and) sadly many leave determined never to visit the island again; and keen to share their dreadful experience on social media.”

The residents reportedly had put their action on hold until after general elections had passed; but now they plan to resume their action.

They are of the opinion that these types of establishments should not have been granted licences to play music until 4 a.m. in a residential area.

Accordingly, they wish to find out if these licences can be revoked, even as they consider possible action against the Ministry of Health for wilful dereliction of its duty of care to the health of the community.

Several months ago, Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh closed down the “13 Bar” by revoking its liquor license, after 22 residents of Browne’s Avenue filed a joint petition. 

Residents said they had been enduring the blast of loud music from a nearby bar and the vulgar conversations, cursing, and noise that came along with it.

This bar was closed not only because of the noise and conduct of the patrons, but because the Court felt the proprietor had misled the bench.

Instead of a Tavern Licence, which is granted specifically for bars, the owner had made an application for a Bottle Licence, which would cover establishments such as superettes, supermarkets and shops.