Plans to scrap entertainment licences put forward

 
Estelle and Kano at the Jazz Cafe in 2007 A change in the rules could prove a boost for live music

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Pubs, clubs and other small venues offering live music would no longer have to apply for an entertainment licence, under government proposals.

The plans - going out to consultation - would apply to premises in England and Wales with a capacity of under 5,000.

Ministers say the changes could also apply to school and charity events.

Licences would still be required for boxing, wrestling and sexual entertainment, and the rules on alcohol supply and sales would not be affected.

The government says the consultation paper on activities defined as "regulated entertainment" under the Licensing Act 2003 is part of its attempt to eliminate red tape.

Punch and Judy

Existing regulations cover venues hosting live and recorded music, which normally have to apply to their local council for a licence, plays, dance, film screenings and indoor sports.

Start Quote

If there's no good reason for any of the rules and restrictions in this important area, our presumption should be to scrap them”

End Quote John Penrose Tourism Minister

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the Licensing Act 2003 removed the so-called two-in-a-bar rule, which had allowed two musicians to perform in a pub without needing an entertainment permit, and this was one example of how it "ended up potentially criminalising a harmless cultural pastime".

"The various musicians' and other performers' unions are extremely concerned that all these obstacles reduce the scope for new talent to get started," it added.

Tourism Minister John Penrose said changes could provide an "important source of new income to struggling businesses such as pubs, restaurants and hotels".

He said extra costs and red tape had also been imposed on school plays and discos where ticket sales went to Parent Teacher Association funds, Punch and Judy shows, street artists, park brass bands and restaurant pianists.

He said current laws had resulted in "inconsistent, illogical and capricious" distinctions between types of events and regulation should be required only where it was needed to keep events safe.

Mr Penrose added: "Before we press ahead, it's important we get the views of those working in the industry, and to make sure that the principles of public safety, prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm are safeguarded.

"Our starting point is a simple one: If there's no good reason for any of the rules and restrictions in this important area, our presumption should be to scrap them."

John Smith, general secretary of the Musicians' Union, welcomed the move.

"At the very least, we hope that the result will be to implement an exemption for small venues putting on live music with fewer than 200 people in attendance, which we have been lobbying for for many years now," he said.

"We therefore also support the proposals outlined in Lord Clement-Jones' Live Music Bill, which state that an exemption to the Licensing Act should take place when 'the live music entertainment takes place in the presence of an audience of no more than 200 persons'."

 

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  • rate this
    -14

    Comment number 137.

    An excuse for people to make money (probably untaxed cash payments) at the expense of polluting the local environment with yet more noise in the evening and at night.

    This licence repeal will be a regressive step for the quality of life for the majority of those living in the affected communities.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 126.

    Right at this moment I am suffering an eight-hour outdoor concert at our local pub. Even with double-glazing and all windows closed, it is impossible to hear our own TV or radio without turning them up to deafening levels. A new landlord took over 12 months ago and discovered (through a loophole) he could have up to 6 such concerts a year under his licence. God help us if the licence is scrapped!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 99.

    Sorry not had time to read feed - but want to add that I will be at my local pub this evening where there is always a live band. Great to bop away to for a couple of hours - but I'm 58 and the young ones are not much present. Love to hear up and coming school bands, but they are not around often. Pubs and music - potentially the heart of our communities.

    Martin

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 96.

    For 3 years I've been reviewing bands playing the local pubs. I've seen great up and coming bands,american bands and one or two terrible bands. All playing original stuff. The bands are there but whats missing is the audiences. I've seen gigs where only the other bands playing made up the crowd. Teenagers seem happy to download,see muddy festivals but not care whats on five minutes down the road

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 84.

    In Scotland if you charge at the door of a Community Centre you need a Public Entertainment Licence. If no charge is made, no licence is required. If this is on the grounds of h & s, why is the public deemed to be 'safer' if they do not pay?
    The complete process is meaningless bureaucratic red tape, which costs the Charity, the Council and ultimately you the tax payer, with no tangible benefit.

 

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