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Residents make noise complaint after first weekend of Midi Fair

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: Illustration picture shows an attraction of the Brussels Midi Fair (Brusselse Zuidfoor - Foire du Midi) in front of houses. (BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK)
06:36 19/07/2021

The Midi Fair has only just officially opened but local residents in the vicinity of the fairground are already angry. According to the neighbourhood committee for the Jardin aux Fleurs district in central Brussels, the lower buildings in the area have not been taken into account when setting up the attractions. "I sincerely hope that we do not have to take legal action to enforce our right to sleep from 22.00" a spokesperson for the neighbourhood committee said.

The fair opened this week for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began. Last year’s event was cancelled due to the health restrictions brought in to counter the first wave. The location for this year’s event however has been moved slightly up from its regular spot due to work being carried out on the future metro line 3 on Avenue de Stalingrad. This has led to several of the taller attractions being set up near Arts et Métiers on the inner ring, which have caused residents living nearby to complain.

"To our great surprise, we noticed that the City of Brussels has allocated the new Arts et Métiers fairground strip to the highest and noisiest attractions," the neighbourhood committee wrote in an email addressed to the Brussels alderman responsible for economic affairs Fabian Maingain. "These attractions up to 70 meters high extend up to 57 meters above the façades of buildings on the inner ring, so that the dreaded screeching and noise threatens to penetrate deep into the low residential areas behind, and at times until at least 1.00 in the morning."

The neighbourhood committee had already written to Maingain, but the alderman’s office has remained silent, according to the committee. "We are very disappointed that you, your cabinet and the city services involved have not found time to answer or contact our concerned residents' questions in the last 17 days," it said in its correspondence. Furthermore, the local residents are disappointed, because the fairground is open until 1.00 during weekends and on the evenings before public holidays.

Maingain announced two weeks ago that there would be noise restrictions of 75 decibels in place at the fairground after 22.00. "We always try to strike a balance between allowing as many events and activities as possible to continue and the quality of life of the residents," he said at the time.

Meanwhile, the neighbourhood committee is threatening legal action. "Please do not underestimate the negative health impact of disturbed sleep," it said in the email addressed to Maingain.

Written by Nick Amies