Jesus Ball committee answers critics

Alice Baghdjian - News Editor 19 June 2009

The Jesus 2009 May Ball Committee have responded to reports and criticism in local press that they ‘shut down’ the Jesus May Ball early, leaving guests without entertainment.
Some of the entertainments (ents) of the Wizard of Oz themed May Ball which took place on Monday were switched off earlier than scheduled following a number of complaints from local residents.

It is reported that Environmental Health Officers from Cambridge City Council visited the Ball three times during the evening. At 4.45am the Committee took the decision to switch off the music Ents situated outside in the marquees.

The ents inside the college buildings as well as the fairground and casino continued as normal. “People were keen for the ceilidh, scheduled for 5am, to go ahead but we chose to cancel it, “said Ben Hosford, Co -President of the Jesus Committee. “We could have let it continue, we weren’t prohibited from playing music outdoors, but we were concerned this would ruin the relationship between the city council and next year’s May Ball Committee,” The May Ball Handbook, distributed to all the May Ball committees by Cambridge City Council, cites noise as being “by far the source of the greatest number of complaints over the years.”

May Balls must comply with strict regulations on sound, which are outlined in the handbook. These regulations require the presence of a designated sound officer, who is independent of the ents at the ball. The role of the sound officer is to monitor the sound levels of every act during the night and record the information in a log.

“There may be occasions when the Environmental Health Officer on duty may ask for sound levels to be reduced below the maximum levels specified in order to deal with disturbance or to assist in responding to complaints,” the Handbook reads. “Officers will request a reduction in sound levels only if they are satisfied that it is necessary in the interests of abating a nuisance or of preventing unreasonable disturbance.”

“One of the problems is that some of the acts bring their own sound engineers,” Co-President of the Jesus Committee, Katrina Hewitt explained. “Initially we were trying to lower the sound… but many bands felt the sound regulations were too low and threatened to pull out of the line up. “When the sound officer turned down the sound, they turned it back up.”

The May Ball committee insist that all the necessary regulations had been put in place at the start of the May Ball and the premises inspected by officers from the council on the day of the ball. Over 100 letters were delivered to local residents, notifying them of the May Ball’s date and time, as well as informing them of the sound regulations in place. The letters also contained number of the porters’ lodge, should residents wish to call the college. “On one hand you want to enhance the sound for the enjoyment of the guests at the ball but you also need to balance this with ensuring that local residents are not disturbed – it’s a constant trade off,” said Hewitt.

Alice Baghdjian – News Editor