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

    Comment number 112.

    The main problem with the 2003 licensing act was not so much with commercial venues selling alcohol which have to apply for this annually, but with Temporary Events Notices (TEN), which restricts the number - 10 per annum - and the size of the event to 499 people. Getting rid of TENs should encourage a much more entrepreneurial approach to promoting live music.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    This news is fantastic. The bottom has fallen out of the music industry slowly over the last 10 years. The once thriving club scene has died a death between licenceing costs and the smokeing ban. There is now only a minimal grass roots venues for local artists to play at.
    There is nowhere for the real talent to come from and we end up with only manufactured music.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    finally.....common sense prevails! This is exactly what local live music venues need!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    Wont make a deal of difference whilst the smoking ban remains. Pubs can provide music,fine ales,brilliant cheap food and dancing girls riding elephants they will still continue closing at a rate of knots unless the ban on smoking is lifted Im afraid.

  • Comment number 108.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    19 Minutes ago
    . . . never understood the point of having to licence small venues like pubs;

    Licenced pubs also need to provide licensed security, adding huge costs to small venues making many economically non-viable. There are different ways to crack a nut & in politics it's easy to create a few H&S rules to attain specific regressive contrived outcomes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    It didn't just effect bands, there are solo artists that would have just liked to jam on a guitar that couldn't play in the pub due to licensing. I guess you could call them "Flash-Guitarists" (Since flash seem's a currently used word for "Just suddenly occurring") Solo artists were effected after Labour's shake up over the limitations surrounding not needing a license.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    There's not much in it for us these days. You make it sound like everything is thriving.Ask any decent musician and he'll put you right.

    No, not everything is thriving, much has been lost & theres much struggle for young talent, but always has been
    Loads of talent around, but todays generation mainly demand instant everything, especially free downloads without supporting bands

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    Sadly I foresee vast amounts of unmitigated and unregulated noise coming my way - It is bad enough now - It will be far worse

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Common sense prevails at last. The local music scene has suffered under current legislation. Live music will benefit greatly if the changes are implemented.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    . . . never understood the point of having to licence small venues like pubs; there was no intention to vet or improve quality, just a hoop to jump through; H&S is a red herring - patrons are no less safe because someone is playing music. . . fire regs need to be observed irrespective of what activity is going on. It smacks of regulate because we can. . .and pubs should be licensed by magistrates

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    I don't see a demise in my local they have several very loud and very good band's during the week and weekend and have a very healthy amount off customers and some dam good bands If you don't want noise then don't go to a pub with live entertainment simple.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    Kids today don't seem at all interested in watching live music locally. Only bands which have been vetted by the media. Also with the closing down of indie record shops there is nowhere to advertise the gigs. HMV doesn't want to know whats on next door unless their sponsoring the gig which they aren't unless it's an arena tour. And they wonder where the future break through act is coming from.

  • rate this

    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.


  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    The next step is to 'free' from licencing the radio stations that play new music. Radio Caroline tops the list.

    And when I talk about 'spice girls' etc. as examples of a band that emerged from pubs & clubs I'm not making a musical judgement, just pointing out the massive income from music exports that UK derives for the benefit of us all.

  • Comment number 97.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    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

    Comment number 95.

    What ruined music was Cameron claiming to like the Smiths. Brown claiming the Arctic Monkeys was bad enough, but Dave was the last nail in the coffin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    You don't think the bands play for free do you?"

    Most do. In fact in many cases the band pays the venue to play.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    88. lapin-rouge wrote :

    Pubs & clubs provide the 'nursery' for fledgling bands to develop & the first step on the ladder for...U2... and even the Spice Girls.


    Surely that's an argument against music in pubs then ?


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