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The Shambles UK Licensing - Contact your MP (53* d) UK Licensing - Contact your MP 10 Mar 07

The following from Hamish Birchall

Please circulate

Hugo Swire, Conservative MP for East Devon, and Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has tabled an Early Day Motion expressing concern about the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on small-scale live music:

The main purpose of EDMs is to draw attention to an issue, and to gain support by inviting other MPs to add their signatures. More on EDMs here:

If enough MPs sign EDMs can be effective in raising the Parliamentary and media profile of an issue. This EDM is well timed, as in the next few weeks the government will consider proposals from the Live Music Forum to improve the Licensing Act.

Please consider asking your MP to sign. You can send a message to your MP here (the site can identify your MP from your postcode):

It is important to use your own words, but some of these points may help:

* The most recent DCMS/MORI research found that 40% of smaller venues have lost any automatic entitlement to live music as a result of the new Licensing Act ('Licensing Act 2003 - The Experience of Smaller Establishments in applying for live music authorisation', December 2006').

* There is uncertainty about the status of the 60% of smaller venues said to have live music authorisation. DCMS do not know whether live music licence conditions, where they apply, have been implemented. Unless such conditions are implemented by the venue, having live music remains illegal.

* Under the old regime 100% of bars and restaurants licensed to sell alcohol could automatically provide one or two musicians.

* In the changeover to the new regime, all such venues were automatically granted permission to play recorded music, which also allows the provision of DJs.

* The provision of big screen broadcast sport or music is exempt, anywhere, no matter how powerfully amplified.

* The government has never provided any evidence that live music causes significant social harm, nor any evidence that live music is a greater risk as an entertainment than big screen sport in bars.

Subject: Licensing - Lib Dems demand action
From: GUEST,Roger Gall former mudcatter

Date: 13 Jun 07 - 05:56 AM

The following from Hamish Birchall

The following press release was issued by the Liberal Democrats yesterday, Tuesday 12 June 2007:


The Government must re-examine licensing regulations in the light of public concern over the damage current laws are having on live music.

Commenting after an e-petition on the Downing Street website on the impact of the 2003 Licensing Act closed with over 79,000 signatures, Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, Don Foster MP said:

'The sheer scale of this petition shows the depth of public concern on the impact that these regulations are having on live music.

'Live music in a pub is an essential part of Britain's musical heritage so why something as innocuous as providing a piano in a bar should be deemed an offence is beyond me.

'The Government claims that there has been no effect on the industry but their own research shows that 40% of smaller venues have lost any automatic entitlement to provide live music.

'The Government must take note of people's concerns and seek to help the industry grow by repealing such bureaucratic legislation.'


Notes to Editors

1. Downing Street petition text:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to recognise that music and dance should not be restricted by burdensome licensing regulations. The recently introduced changes in licensing law have produced an environment where music and dance, activities which should be valued and promoted in a civilised society, are instead damaged by inappropriate regulation. We call on the Prime Minister to recognise this situation and take steps to correct it.

2. DCMS and the Association of Live Music Forum commissioned MORI research into the impact of the Act revealed that, following the Licensing Act, 40% of smaller venues lost any automatic entitlement to provide live music. In order to do so these venues are now forced to apply for a Temporary Event Notice (TEN), costing 21, up to a maximum of 12 per year for each venue:

6.1.1. The proportion of establishments which now have a Premises Licence permitting them to stage live music is not significantly larger than the proportions of establishments which previously put on live music events, either with a PEL or through some other form of authorisation. Very few establishments that wanted a new licence were denied it, and many who were previously limited to 2-in-a-bar now have the ability to stage music with 2 or more musicians27

6.1.2. This contrasts, of course, with the fact that 40% of establishments now have no automatic means of putting on live music (i.e. they would have to give a TEN). Whether this is problematic is debatable: these establishments have tended to indicate a lack of suitability or local demand for putting on live music - so we might expect the negative impact from this to be minimal.'

"Licensing Act 2003: The experience of smaller venues in applying for live music authorisation"
December 2006

3. The provision of a piano in a bar could be deemed an offence under the terms of the Licensing Act 2003 as a provision of 'unlicensed entertainment facilities'.

4. Liberal Democrat 2005 Manifesto pledge:

We believe artists must have the freedom to create, not just teach others, and that the arts must be free from excessive Government interference. The Liberal Democrats would: allow live music to flourish by reducing the currently overly bureaucratic requirements for licences for small venues while strengthening local authorities' powers over noise, disturbance and safety to prevent public nuisance.

5. The definition of 'incidental music', which continues to be exempt under the Licensing Act, is also unclear. Some councils require, for example, hospitals to be licensed to provide live music to entertain their patients, whilst hospitals in a neighbouring borough are free to do so without a license.

Contact: Sean Kemp, Print Media Manager, Liberal Democrats
Office: 020 7227 1240
Mobile: 07960 012 356 ... Out of Hours: 020 7340 4949

The following from the above.

Licensing Act - statement of Union policy
Date: 11th June 2007

MU confirms position on impact of the Licensing Act 2003
& Licensing Act 2003 - MU statement (pdf download)

The Musicians' Union has produced a comprehensive report and outline of Union policy on the Licensing Act 2003 in advance of the publication of the Live Music Forum's Report (LMF) into the legislation.

The Union's statement makes it clear that despite the acknowledged improvements, particularly for large and medium music venues when the current regulatory system is compared to the old PEL system, it remains hard to imagine many circumstances when the principal objectives of the Act would be breached or compromised by the performance of live music.

After extensive monitoring, research and internal discussion, the Musicians' Union is still of the opinion that the inclusion of regulated entertainment in the Licensing Act is unnecessary, and at the first opportunity it will campaign for its removal from the prevailing legislation. However, the Musicians' Union acknowledges that an opportunity to comprehensively revise the Act is not likely to occur for a number of years, therefore the Union is making the following recommendations which represent a constructive way forward that will enable the Dept for Culture, Media & Sport to deliver what numerous government Ministers have promised - that the Act will be good for live music and encourage its growth.

MU General Secretary John Smith outlines the Union's stance:
""The Musicians' Union has worked hard to secure the best possible position for our members during the run up to, and following the implementation of, the Licensing Act 2003. To this end we produced our Live Music Kit in order to encourage establishments to put on live music events and have taken a leading role on the Government's Live Music Forum. This was set up by the Secretary of State to monitor the impact of the Act on the provision of live music and to make recommendations to government on how to encourage its growth.

Our opinion of this method of licensing entertainment remains, however, as it was prior to the introduction of the new licensing regime; namely that live music does not pose a threat to law and order and should not be licensed in this manner. We have offered five recommendations which, if implemented, could make all the difference and even lead us to changing our minds. These are made in the spirit of co-operation and we hope that the Secretary of State will accept them and so ensure that the Licensing Act is indeed a music friendly Act."

To access the full statement, including the Musician Union's detailed recommendations, the background to the 2003 Act and the organisation's activity since its implementation, please visit

The following from Hamish Birchall.

The Live Music Forum is recommending 'as a matter of some urgency' an amendment to the Licensing Act which would exempt gigs attracting fewer than 100 people.

However, a leaked copy of the latest draft of the LMF report to ministers reveals that this key recommendation, one of 28, is opposed by LACORS (Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services), a body represented on the LMF. In all, LACORS is 'unable to support' five of the recommendations, including a proposed exemption for unamplified live music, and the creation of a mechanism, presumably within the Act, that would allow a member of the public to make representations in support of a live music application. LACORS appears to be the only LMF objector to any of the report's recommendations.

The report also repeats the view that the Act has had a 'broadly neutral impact on the provision of live music', and claims that the 'industry' is positive about standardised licence fees and Temporary Events Notices. However it adds: '... it is also true to say that the Licensing Act has not led to the promised increase in live music...', and '... we view with some scepticism any belief that the Act will in itself lead to a growth in live music.'

This echoes yesterday's surprisingly forthright press release by the Musicians Union which, contrary to the headline, represents a sharp change of direction, if not a long overdue U-turn:

In their full licensing policy statement, the MU concludes:

'After extensive monitoring, research and internal discussion the Musicians' Union is still of the opinion that the inclusion of regulated entertainment in the Licensing Act is unnecessary, and at the first opportunity it will campaign for its removal from the prevailing licensing legislation.'

['Licensing Act - Statement of Union Policy', 11 June 2007]

In fact, the Union's 'live music kit', first published in 2004 as a guide for prospective gig promoters, claimed that live music application under the new regime was as easy as 1, 2, 3 and that there would be no extra cost for live music. Only last year, MU officials corresponding with trumpeter Henry Lowther over the loss of his gigs at a Regent's Park venue, implied that a 3-performer limit imposed as a licence condition by Westminster City Council was for performers' safety, and therefore beyond criticism. It later emerged that it was an ill-conceived noise condition and nothing to do with safety, which is in any case separately regulated as the MU now appears to accept.

While yesterday's MU welcome press release acknowledges that it may be some years before the Act may be substantially overhauled, it makes a number of recommendations '...which represent a constructive way forward that will enable the Dept for Culture, Media & Sport to deliver what numerous government Ministers have promised - that the Act will be good for live music and encourage its growth.' These include an exemption for venues up to 100 capacity.

Last but not least, yesterday the petition opposing the music and dance provisions of the Licensing Act, number 1 on the Number 10 website since 01 May, closed with nearly 80,000 signatures:

The question is now whether the government favours LACORS over the LMF, MU and public opinion.

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