Mudcat Café message #1257192 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #70681   Message #1257192
Posted By: The Shambles
26-Aug-04 - 07:27 AM
Thread Name: A little more news on Licensing
Subject: RE: A little more news on Licensing
This response from 'our Ronnie' at the DCMS, was posted by Mary on her Action for Music list
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Dear Mr T

Thank you for your e-mail of 8 July to Tessa Jowell about the Guidance to
Licensing Authorities which relates to the Licensing Act 2003. If you have
not previously received a reply to your e-mail, please accept my apologies
for the delay in getting back to you.

It was not the Government's intention to create new licensable activities
when taking the Licensing Bill through Parliament last year. Our priority
was to modernise the existing licensing regimes and to remove anomalies and
out-dated exemptions.   During the Parliamentary stages of the Licensing
Bill, both Houses debated the case for licensing the showing of live
sporting events on widescreen television.   Both Houses rejected that case.

No-one doubts that the prevention of crime and disorder arises in the
context of the showing of particular live sporting events (mainly major
football matches) in places where the sale of alcohol takes place. We have
not heard anyone suggest that the Open Golf Championship or the showing of
rugby or cricket matches gives rise to similar concerns. It is not
therefore live widescreen television broadcasts per se which give rise to
concern, but the live broadcast of certain high profile football matches in
places where alcohol is sold for consumption. Crucially, it is the impact
of alcohol that gives rise to the need for licensing. Under the Licensing
Act 2003, all public houses and bars showing live sporting events on
television will require premises licences because they sell alcohol and, as
a result, will be required to take steps to ensure the promotion of the
licensing objectives in relation to the premises. These objectives, as you
know, are the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, the
prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm. If
they fail to do so, they could face a review of the licence, which would
place it in jeopardy. There is therefore no case for licensing live
broadcasts of sport on widescreen television, but a strong case for
licensing sales of alcohol.

The Government has never accepted that live music, or certain types of music
(for example, acoustic folk music), should be excluded from the new
licensing regime; and Parliament has now endorsed that view. Regulating the
performance of music in public and bringing it within the licensing regime
allows the licensing authorities, following relevant representations, to
impose necessary and proportionate conditions to promote the licensing
objectives for the benefit of residents and customers. If the performance
of music were not brought within the regime it would mean that the licensing
authorities would be unable to impose conditions in order to protect the
public. The licensing authority will consider on a case-by-case basis what
range of conditions are appropriate following any representations that are
made. Major venues staging rock bands would, for example, be likely to have
to comply with a greater range and number of conditions than a small pub or
club which puts on unamplified music. Issues relating to public safety and
public nuisance, and occasionally to do with the prevention of crime and
disorder, arise in the context of live music whether or not it is combined
with alcohol. Any comparison between widescreen television broadcasts and
live music does not therefore stand scrutiny.

An example of a live music event which resulted in police intervention is
the 16th annual Brecon Jazz Festival. At this event, police arrested 90
people (nearly half for controlled drug offences) and 23 people were taken
into custody for public order disturbances.

In the context of the Licensing Act 2003, the important point is that
venues, including pubs and bars will be able to add a permission to put on
live music at no additional cost when applying to sell alcohol through the
premises licence. We believe that if the industry makes full use of the
reforms on offer, it will vastly increase the opportunities for musicians to
perform. We are working closely with organisations representing musicians
and the music industry, including the Musicians' Union, through the Live
Music Forum to ensure that full advantage is taken of these reforms.

If you would like more information about the work of the Forum please visit
our website at the following address:
.

With regard to circuses, we recognise that there are specific issues about
the number of sites which circuses visit and concerns about their
flexibility to move sites at short notice. The main consideration has
always been whether there is any justification for treating circuses
differently from other forms of commercial entertainment with which they are
in direct competition. Circuses have been licensed in Scotland and Northern
Ireland for many years, but in England and Wales they have traditionally
been regarded as falling within old exemptions applying to fairs and
travelling showmen.

The four licensing objectives are intended to benefit and protect local
communities and we do not accept that these issues are any less relevant to
circuses than they are to other entertainment providers. No credible case
has ever been made out for the exemption of circuses from the 2003 Act where
they are carrying out similar licensable activities.

I should make it clear that the Licensing Act 2003 will not specifically
exempt travelling fairgrounds from the requirement for a licence. The 2003
Act applies to circuses and travelling fairgrounds only to the extent that
they carry out licensable activities. Whether or not their activities fall
within particular definitions, relating to the 2003 Act, for example of
indoor sport, music or dancing will be a matter of fact in each case, and
will ultimately be for the courts to determine.

Circuses are large commercial events that attract large numbers of people,
including a significant proportion of children (often as much as 50 per cent
of the audience), and it is difficult to justify their exemption from the
regime, given the potential risks involved.

The facts do not lend support to the view that the financial burden on
circuses will be unreasonable. The fees for premises licences have not yet
been finalised, but as we have said on many occasions, we estimate that fees
will be between 100 and 500 in bands likely to be based on non-domestic
rateable values. Most open land would fall at the lower end of this scale
and most circuses should not expect to pay more than around 100 per
premises licence. There are about 30 travelling circuses and they claim
that, on average, each attracts annual audiences totalling 160,000 and
visits about 40 individual sites. The total cost of licences to the circus
industry in England and Wales in the first year is therefore likely to be
about 120,000. With a total annual audience of 4.8 million, this would
mean that less than three pence would have to be added to each ticket
normally sold to cover these costs.   

In addition, there will be no bureaucratic renewal process under the new
regime and licences will be valid indefinitely, if not revoked or suspended.
In subsequent years, the licence holders will pay only an annual charge to
cover inspection and enforcement activity, which will be lower than the fee
for the grant of a premises licence.   

The way to make progress is for the circus industry to engage with licensing
authorities to seek agreement on some common approaches and best practice.
This includes encouraging local authorities to consider licensing certain
public areas themselves, thus obviating the need for individual applications
for premises licences. The Guidance to licensing authorities encourages
licensing authorities to emphasise in the statements of licensing policy the
aims of providing diverse entertainment and culturally enriching activities,
which would of course include circuses. I should make it clear that the
Guidance cannot be used to amend the Act, as some have suggested, in order
to exempt circuses.

This Department has met circuses representatives, the Arts Council and
Equity on several occasions and signalled our willingness to help the circus
community engage with local authorities and to understand the terms of the
2003 Act. We will continue to work with circuses in order to help them
adapt in the most effective way to licensing reform and are more than happy
to consider any practical measures which are justified within the licensing
objectives.

It has been indicated that circuses have no objection in principle to being
licensed, but do have some issues with the scheme agreed in the 2003 Act.
What we are doing, as we have with other sectors, is finding ways to assist
this important and popular part of our cultural heritage to adjust to the
requirements of the new regime in a way that is as smooth and manageable as
possible.

I hope this reassures you that we are listening to the concerns of the
circus community and that circuses will continue to bring enjoyment to a
great many people in the future.

Yours sincerely



RONNIE BRIDGETT
Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing Policy Branch
Tourism Division