Mudcat Café message #537253 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #38260   Message #537253
Posted By: GUEST,Hamish Birchall
29-Aug-01 - 03:27 AM
Thread Name: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
Thoughts for Kimberlin:

Local authorities could easily develop PEL policies that encourage amateur music. They don't need to wait for a change in the law - or guidance from the LGA.

1) PEL fees are entirely at their discretion. A nil fee could be fixed for certain types of local music.

What is the justification for PEL fees anyway? You are already subsidising provision of all forms of the performing arts through national AND local taxation. Weymouth will have a sizeable arts budget not only from a central Government contribution, but from its Council Tax revenues. Also, the poorest in the community will be contributing the greater part of National Lottery arts funding. When people decide to make their own cultural life locally, why should this be conditional upon paying yet another fee to the council?

2) Counting members of the public as 'performers' under the s 182 exemption to PELs is not set in stone. There appears to be no contemporary case law. The way is open to Weymouth, and other councils, to interpret this provision narrowly (i.e. count only as performers those who are specifically engaged by licensees). This would at least minimise the incompatibility of the present policy and the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention.

Preventing music-making where there are no noise or safety issues is perverse and peculiar. Arguing that this is the inevitable consequence of the letter of the law is not a viable excuse when the enforcement could have a disproportionate effect on freedom of expression.

Weymouth must explain how its enforcement in Roger Gall's case was compatible with Article 10. Under the Human Rights Act, it has a statutory duty to adopt only interpretations of legislation that are compatible with Convention rights.