6 Oct 2008

Call to end piped music

Following the correspondence in The Citizen recently re music in public places I sent this response this morning:

Photos: Speakers in art exhibition and below moss

Barbara Gardiner's call for action against music and news in public places is to be welcomed (The Citizen letters 15/09/08).

The Green Party peer Lord Beaumont of Whitley in 2006 introduced a Private Member’s Bill to ban piped music and televisions in public areas of hospitals and on public transport. He sadly died earlier this year before the bill had been picked up by an MP, although in the past Conservative MP Robert Key had also tried and failed to make progress on this issue.

Lord Beaumont who was named "Parliamentarian of the Year" in 2004 for introducing and steering the ground-breaking Air Traffic Emissions Reduction Bill through the House of Lords (i) argued that people should wear headphones if they are listening to music in hospitals or on public transport. I wholly agree: such music is particularly offensive when you have no choice but to be there, and are unlikely to be feeling your best in the first place.

Such music has become all but ubiquitous in restaurants, shops – even bookshops – banks and too many other public places. Research shows unwanted noise raises the blood pressure and depresses the immune system. As Barbara Gardiner writes we live in a "world of noise noise noise". Of course music can be a perfectly agreeable part of the ambience, but let's make silence the default position and music a conscious choice.

It was actor and author Stephen Fry, who said: "Piped water, piped oil, piped gas - but never piped music."

Cllr Philip Booth,

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