Call me cynical but several incidents of late have raised more than a few eyebrows regarding certain integrities...and quite honestly, something reeks of foul play here. Forget conspiracy theories or, forget coincidence...a series of issues have popped up all too conveniently within a short space of time to even humour that notion...and it's not only Fuel, but Womanby Street as a whole that stands to suffer. It all started a short while ago when the nearby J.D. WETHERSPOON owned pub THE GATEKEEPER was in talks to develop part of it's 3-story building into a hotel, cashing in on a new expansion the chain as a whole is marketing. First of all, there are plenty of hotels in Cardiff, there really are, we don't need another, secondly, they KNEW it was in a street FULL of bars and music venues...there were always going to be issues and people saw this. Not wanting this hotbed of live entertainment jeopardized by more noise restrictions, a petition was set up getting signatures against J.D. Wetherspoons basically stating that, it was a poor location for such an idea and it shouldn't go through, polite enough...apparently this didn't go down well...
Shortly after it had emerged that a NEW resident to the nearby area...had filed an official noise complaint against Fuel. This has people scratching heads for a couple of reasons. Firstly, when you look into moving into a new property and area, you do your research...the person in question WOULD HAVE KNOWN that there was not one but THREE live music establishments in Womanby Street, not to mention THE PRINCIPALITY STADIUM across the road...this wasn't going to be some quiet secluded part of town, you're in the heart of the city, there will be noise! Rob met with the resident, gave all his contact details and explained how they operated, everything was legit, but, the complaint still went through. Whats more, it was stated that Fuel had received a notice from the Council and that they were satisfied with the complaint upon investigation and if the issue isn't resolved, large financial penalties would follow. Fuel now faces paying for specialist advice and further soundproofing, until the council is happy that there is no longer a "nuisance".
Further more, to add to that, on top of sudden complaints and questionable attitudes from the local council, it's since emerged that, ironically enough, there is proposed planing permission to build a block of flats / apartment complex right next door to CLWB IFOR BACH, which is where? In Womanby Street...which part? RIGHT. OPPOSITE. FUEL. Now call me a theorist, proclaim I have a vivid imagination but all this has emerged within the time frame of just over a month. ONE MONTH. Whatever ultimately happens, this has more than a whiff of corruption and quite frankly I am both bemused at how property developers would think this is a good idea and more importantly, I'm worried for the future of Womanby Street and it's existence as a cultural hub in not only Cardiff, but what it represents for the South Wales live music scene. As I've stated, Fuel is an award winning club which supports a minority, Clwb is an iconic venue in it's own right...people come to these venues to spend money strengthening Cardiff's economy, bands, artists choose to play these venues, they bring in revenue and culture...a culture that is far, far more important that another hotel or yet more housing. If it goes ahead, these venues risk being victimized by further restrictions on trading, promotions and curfews and it will damage what some see as a sanctuary away from your regular night clubs and bars...there's character here, there is a uniqueness to Womanby Street and it must be cherished.
Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson has only recently been quoted championing local / small music venues...the arts need them, whether you are a solo singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar, a stand-up comedian in development, an underground death metal band or even a promoter, we NEED these venues, venues like Fuel, venues like Clwb Ifor to stay and to flourish, they need to be protected and encouraged, not disheartened by other companies financial bullying or greedy businesses heartless commercial gain...this area of Cardiff needs your support and we need to show people that, it's not a case of "Oh but there are other clubs" or "go elsewhere"...no...Womanby Street is, in more ways than one, home. Stand up for Womanby Street...save YOUR scene.
Click on the image below to follow a link to the official "Save Womanby Street" Facebook Group.