Bar owners unite in music ‘licensing war’

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WITH summertime here again, bars and restaurants are going all out to draw the tourists in, but some feel local authorities are against them.

For the majority of those in the bar and restaurant trade in Spain, there are only three months during the year when they can hope to make some decent money, which will help to keep them ticking over through the winter.

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This means cashing in on the influx of tourists, in some cases by offering cheap food and drink; and free live entertainment, thus giving them a reason to choose their bar over another.

It all sounds good in theory, but some bar owners feel like they cannot win as they claim  the Local Police seem on a mission to “kill the entertainment.”

Evolution at La Fuente Commercial Centre was also hit with a whopping €1,000 spot fine! Partner, Jack, explained that “We have a music license which was issued from Orihuela Costa Town Hall, and are permitted to play music inside the bar until midnight.”


However, on the night in question it was a clients’ birthday and the performer had taken the microphone onto the terrace to serenade her at her table.

“At that moment the Police arrived saying that they had received a complaint about the noise levels. They cut the music for the rest of the evening also hitting us with the fine for infringement of the licence. It was a classic example of bad luck!”

The Police informed them that the complaint had come from another business owner on the Commercial Centre.


“We have such a limited period in which we can make any money and the offer of live music attracts customers. Our location within the centre means that there is lots of competition, so we have to make a greater effort to bring people in!”

Evolution has sought advice from a solicitor, who has instructed them not to pay the fine for the meantime and continue to play music indoors as stipulated in their licence. Meanwhile, within the same Commercial Centre, The Stray Sod Irish Bar advertises “Live Entertainment on the terrace from 20:00”.

The EWN paid a visit to the bar to investigate why they are able to put their acts outside and was told that “We are permitted to show live entertainment on the terrace until 22:00” confirming that they have not had any problems with the Police regarding their entertainment programme.

The music concern is repeated in Torrevieja, where the Town Hall does not issue music licences, but according to bar owners, permits the playing of music until midnight. However, there is some discrepancy between bars, with some allegedly being instructed by Police that music is only permitted inside the building, whilst others have entertainment on an open terrace during seven nights per week.

Furthermore, several popular bars have been inspected by Police and had their music withdrawn due to “complaints” by neighbours.

One Proprietor claimed “We get hounded constantly by the bar owners opposite. They don’t have entertainment, we do, and thus more customers. They don’t like it and denounce us for the noise, so the Police are constantly at our door, even though we stop at 23:45 every night. All we want to do is make a living and keep our customers are happy and jealous people chose to spoil it!”

Shelly’s Bar in Torreta III has experienced on-going problems, and been forced to cancel their entertainment for over two weeks for fear of getting fined. The Proprietor explained that the Police are particularly vigilant with them in comparison with the Spanish- owned bars located only yards away.

He said that “We have had continued trouble regarding the music, which we have always kept inside in an attempt to avoid complaints, but the Police have also told us that we cannot serve customers after 01:00. They arrived one night at 01:30 and a few of the regulars were still drinking-up, so gave us a really hard time. We are a family-run bar with one aim and that is to run our business. We never anticipated such problems when we opened.”

By Heidi Wardman
[email protected]

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