FOLLOWING THE handing over of a petition and repeated complaints by Vilamoura residents and business owners to the local GNR concerning the level of noise generated by the Klube-K open air nightclub, the police finally appear to be taking action against the club’s owners. Also, it seems that the Portuguese media are now interested in the case.
According to a report this week in the Correio da Manhã newspaper, Loulé GNR sent officers to inspect Klube-K and the neighbouring new Kasablanca restaurant, which is under the same ownership, on July 24, the opening night of the summer season, at which time irregularities were discovered with regard to the establishments’ licences. The GNR returned in the early hours of August 4, following dozens of phone calls from local residents about the excessive noise levels. On this occasion, the promoters of Klube-K, brothers João and Gonçalo Rocha, were issued with an order to remove all sound equipment, under the law relating to noise levels being contravened.
Nightclub promoters remain defiant
However, rather than shutting down the nightclub, the owners apparently continue to operate the establishment, choosing instead to have their lawyer send a letter to the Civil Governor of Faro, António Pina, contesting the police order and insisting that they must complain in order to “prevent an abuse of authority” on the part of the GNR, due to the “coercive” way that police had ordered the sound equipment to be removed from their establishment.
“The equipment we are talking about here conforms with the law and, therefore, its removal would amount to an abuse of power on the part of the GNR,” Paulo Dâmaso, Managing Director of Grupo K, which owns Klube-K and Kasablanca, as well as the Kapital, Kremlin and Kais nightspots in Lisbon, told the newspaper. He also alleged that police intervention was a result of nothing but a hate campaign waged by just one local female resident.
Law must be upheld
The Civil Governor of Faro was contacted who, according to the report, confirmed he had received a letter from the legal representative of Klube-K, Maria Edite Santos, a document which he says he forwarded to the commander of Loulé GNR, asking for further information about the case. “The law is to be complied with and if there is any illegality, we must join forces so that the law is upheld,” guaranteed António Pina.
Licensed as a restaurant
Meanwhile, Kasablanca, which appears to be little more than an extension of the Klube-K nightclub (the photograph with this report shows no restaurant tables, only people dancing), opened its doors for the first time on July 24 and apparently only possesses a restaurant licence, issued in the name of Lusotour, a company bought by Lusort, the owners of the Vilamoura resort since last year.
According to the President of Loulé Câmara, Seruca Emídio, Grupo K contacted the planning department at the câmara with a view to presenting a plan to resolve the situation, a document that, up until this week, has still not been submitted to the council. “Unfortunately, this seems to be the normal practice of clubs that only open in the summer. They make a project proposal but then the establishment closes and they never resolve the paperwork at the council.” He states that he will guarantee to close the establishment next year, should the situation continue.
Court case pending
A source from Loulé GNR apparently told the newspaper that Klube-K’s non-compliance with the order issued by them has already been communicated to the court and that legal proceedings will result in a court judgement.
No hate campaign
In his comments, it is likely that Paulo Dâmaso was referring to Sally Sykes, the British resident who led the petition to have the club shut and who has been writing to all the authorities to complain about the alleged noise disturbance she is suffering (as reported in the June 16 issue of The Resident’s front page story, Nightclub nightmare).
The Resident’s Caroline Cunha spoke to Sally about the comments made by the Managing Director of Grupo K. She said: “How could they possibly think that I have the power to coerce the police when the authorities have ignored all the letters I sent? This is total nonsense.”
She continued: “Also, I have no personal vendetta against anybody. I am merely defending my right to enjoy my property. For the six weeks that the club is open every summer, I can’t sleep. Why shouldn’t I complain?”
It is a fact that Sally Sykes is not the only complainer. As well as many residents in the area, businesses are also being affected. During The Resident’s investigation, it was discovered that the Cegonha Country Club, located just around the corner from Klube-K, has apparently been experiencing problems with clients due to the noise. Some check out early or ask to be moved by tour operators, due to the fact that they are unable to sleep.
The Resident has attempted to contact the management at Klube-K for a comment on the current situation but has received no response. In addition, Jorge Moedas, the environmental manager at Lusort, the company that owns the nightclub and restaurant buildings which are rented to Grupo K, failed to return any phone calls made to his office.
‘Above the law’
Klube-K, which opened five years ago and is located not far from the Vilamoura International School, between the Victoria Golf Club and Vilamoura Equestrian Centre, is apparently the favourite summer venue for the Portuguese jet-set and “the powerful people”. Sally Sykes has always alleged that Klube-K is “above the law” and that a blind eye is frequently turned to the club’s activities every summer.
Hélder Martins, the president of the Algarve Tourism Board, seemed to confirm this in a recent interview published in The Resident. “Until 2002, Klube-K didn’t possess any official papers, but the owners, who are from Lisbon, allegedly had influence with the government. In 2002, Loulé council closed it down. However, it opened again and it seems the owners allegedly have connections with each government that comes to power,” he said.
The father of the two brothers, who are the promoters of Klube-K and Kasablanca, is João Rocha, the former President of Sporting, arguably one of the most high profile and powerful football clubs in Portugal.
Why didn’t police confiscate equipment on the spot?
A question that remains unanswered is why police did not confiscate the equipment on the spot when they were called to the nightclub on August 4, since they have the power to do so under the guidelines in the newly approved Regulamento Geral do Ruído (noise legislation).
In a letter dated June 27 sent by the Environment Ministry to Loulé Câmara, it states that, in order for Klube-K to comply with the noise legislation, all doors and windows must be closed when the sound system is used. As much of the nightclub building has no roof, it seems unlikely that the nightclub could ever comply with the legislation.
Application to European Court
of Human Rights
Due to the fact the Klube-K was still open last weekend, Sally is sceptical that the authorities will ever fully enforce the law, and believes the case could take years to reach the court, if ever. “It seems to me there is no practical remedy under Portuguese law to close this club because this is the sixth year that they have got away with evading the noise regulations. Therefore, I am applying to the European Court of Human Rights to investigate this case.
She continued: “I will ask for damages for loss of rights to enjoyment of my property for six years; other petitioners could do the same. Portugal has signed up to these Human Rights conventions and those who won similar cases in Europe have been awarded thousands.”
Not an isolated case
It seems the Klube-K case is not an isolated one here in the Algarve. After The Resident published the original article about the problems surrounding Klube-K, Sally Sykes was contacted by an elderly couple in Almancil who have also allegedly been suffering from noise pollution. The couple, who do not wish to be named, live oppsite a marquee that has apparently been erected on land some way behind the Apolónia supermarket, in a residential area, allegedly for the purpose of holding parties and weddings. This business is apparently owned by a well known Portuguese society figure and the noise levels on function nights are reported to be unbearable. The couple have just had an application accepted by the European Court of Human Rights for an investigation into the case.
STOP PRESS – K CLUBE UPDATE
Just prior to going to press, The Resident was informed that the application submitted to the European Court of Human Rights has been accepted, meaning that it will now carry out its own investigation to discover if the State of Portugal is contravening Human Rights conventions. Sally Sykes is “elated” with the news. She commented: “I am exhausted. I haven’t had a proper night’s sleep for weeks, but now, perhaps, there is light at the end of the tunnel.”