Geneva’s late night bars under attack for noise

Union of Swiss cities say urban late night noise, violence and alcohol sales closely linked

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Geneva’s late night drinkers are fighting to keep their favourite spots open into the wee hours, after 28 establishments were told by the city they will not be given licenses to remain open until 02:00. The bars and night clubs received letters last week giving them until 28 February to come up with solutions to improve noise levels and to ensure that in 2013, noise problems are reduced.

The move comes as the Union of Swiss Cities issues a report on the growing problem of nighttime noise as well as violence in urban areas, linking it clearly to the continuous sale of alcohol, and calling for concerted action that nevertheless recognizes the differences between Swiss cities and the specific sources of their problems.

The problem of night noise around bars has increased since smokers were sent outdoors, but a new report on the problem published Monday 18 February by the Tribune implies that English-speakers are a significant part of the problem, which dates back only four to five years, when groups began to decide where they would hang out. A city council report in 2012 was more explicit: young people under age 18 and “Anglo-Saxons” are the source of most of the problem.

Mark Butcher, a local radio personality, has argued that the city should remember that English-speakers provide much of the income for bars in the city.

Earlier in 2012 the city council was provided with a special commission’s report that specificially mentioned “English traders” and football fans who fly over from the UK to drink in Geneva because British pubs are closed, although it pointed to the high Swiss franc as a deterrant (“la clientèle qui pose problème est celle des traders anglais qui se fi chent de tout et qui viennent dans la Vieille-Ville se défouler et boire des verres. Par ailleurs, comme les bars ferment, en Angleterre, les soirs de match de football, les supporters se rendent à Genève avec Easy-jet, font la fête toute la nuit, se défoulent et repartent ensuite le matin. Rien ne peut être fait contre cette clientèle parce qu’elle est violente et prête à tout. Elle ne respecte rien.”)