Mudcat Café message #531185 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #37913   Message #531185
Posted By: McGrath of Harlow
19-Aug-01 - 12:39 PM
Thread Name: Will you write an Email for Shambles?
Subject: RE: Will you write an Email for Shambles?
The legal complications don't really come into it. The law needs changing, but even as it is seems to be only relatively few places where councils see it as their job to try to interfere with people singing and playing music for their own mutual enjoyment, and insist that this counts as something for which a Public Entertainment Licence is required.

So basically you just need to say that this is the sort of thing you like doing, and that, while Weymouth has this policy, you won't be going there for your holidays. And that doesn't matter whether you live in England or the USA or Australia, directors of tourism are there to be interested in that kind of thing.

Indentikit letters such as Mudcatter suggested are in my view a bit of a waste of time. Essentially they are spam, and treated as such. With the right program you could send millions of them, and they know that. Individual letters are much better, and it doesn't take any longer than it does to write a post on the Mudcat,

Anyway, as an example, not a model, here is what I sent them - you could probably write something much more effective by keeping it short and sweet.

For the attention of The Director of Tourism, Council Offices, North Quay, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8TA (ianlocke@wpbc.weymouth.gov.uk)

I am writing to you in connection with a matter concerning your council's policy and practice in regard to Public Entertainment Licences.

I currently run a website, which among other things tries to carry up to date information about folk music activities in my part of the country, the Essex Herts border.

This includes keeping people advised about local public houses where the licensees are happy to allow musicians to come in and sing or play music together for their own enjoyment - "sessions" as these are called.

These take places in numerous places all over the country, and generally appear to be accepted by local authorities as social activities which do not require any Public Entertainment License, since there is no question of people being paid to entertain - it is just a matter of people preferring to make music together rather than talk about football or the weather.

However it has come to my attention that some local authorities have interpreted the law in a different way, under which if more than two people take part in any such activity ( by which I mean the activity of making music, not the activity of talking about football or the weather) on any public premises, the activity has to be classed as a public entertainment and requires a public entertainment licence.

So I have been thinking of adding to my website, for the benefit of people planning to go on holiday, a checklist of such authorities. I know that I would always myself prefer to holiday in a place where such sessions, and other traditional folk activities such as Morris Dancing, is not subject to this kind of restriction, and I know that this is true of many people. Fortunately there are many places where the local authority sees no problem in accepting such activities.

Such a list would provide a way of avoiding embarrassment for anybody, especially of course people coming from overseas. I have on a number of occasions had enquiries about this kind of thing from acquaintances in other parts of the world who share my interest in folk music, and whom I have come to know through the Internet. Having this information readily available will enable them avoid those places where they would be unable to relax and enjoy themselves in their chosen fashion.

I understand that Weymouth is such an authority which has determined on a restrictive interpretation of the law - in fact there was a recent story in the national press about this. So the purpose of this letter is to check that the facts which have been stated are correct. So it would be helpful if you could let me know if I am by any chance wrong.

Essentially, if a group of people wish to sing or play unamplified music in a public house, for example, for their own social enjoyment, with the consent of the landlord, and with no objection from other customers, would your council insist that they have no right to do this, unless a public entertainment licence has been obtained? And would,the same policy apply in relation to other public places.?