Mudcat Café message #539253 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #38260   Message #539253
Posted By: The Shambles
31-Aug-01 - 05:30 PM
Thread Name: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
This is the background for my local situation.

This is the background. When the current licensees took over the Cove, my wife and I performed there as conventional paid public entertainment. As a result the Friday night became a regular night for this. As long as the two-performer aspect was kept to, a Public Entertainment Licence was not required as the Section 182 exemption (the so-called two-in a bar rule) applied.

Another pub has held a regular sing-around for about 5 years now, without a Public Entertainment Licence. This is not a conventional public entertainment. The musicians are unpaid customers just making traditional song for their own entertainment, with the permission of the licensee. The licensee of The Cove had visited this sing-around with me and would have liked to have a similar thing in their pub but did not want to take away any custom from this establishment.

This session became busy and there was a conflict between songs and tunes. We thought that a session on another night of the week, for tunes only would solve a number of problems. We needed to advertise that it was for tunes only. In our naivety we did not dream that the licensing authority would class customers providing their own traditional music, as performers for the sole purpose of preventing it.

I advertised for participants for the first night 07/12/200, in our local paper, the licensing manager saw this, wrongly assumed that the licensee had place it and was staging a public entertainment. The premises were visited the next day 08/12/00 and the licensee was threatened, even though at this point, the event had not been witnessed to ascertain how many musicians were involved. When it was witnessed they saw what they wanted to see, a public entertainment with more than two performers. They did not bother to speak to any of the musicians. A letter was issued warning that the licensee faced a possible 20,000 fine or a six month prison sentence if it continued.

When I heard of this action I contacted the licensing dept and explained. It would be fair to say that they did not really consider it to be any of my business but a matter only between them and the licensee. Despite the council's other obligations, all they appeared to be concerned about was that it was unfair on the pubs that had PELs. The original event has not received any attention from our officials and continues.

Events of this nature usually stop at this point, the licensee being unwilling to pay for the cost of a PEL. In this case however the licensee did apply on 01/02/01 The PEL was eventually granted on 16/05/01 but with conditions that were not decided by councillors, in the public hearing scheduled for this on 09/05/01. This hearing being cancelled at the very last moment, by the officers, and the conditions applied in private. These conditions preventing any outside entertainment from taking place except once every August. I have established that this includes Morris dancing on land belonging to the premises. Far from enabling it the PEL has resulted in this traditional activity at the pub being prevented.

I did not feel that the elected members and the public would be happy with this and requested that the policy and the future of traditional music locally, be decided by a meeting of the elected members. Eventually on 05/06/01 a meeting of the Social and Community Committee were recommended to "confirm that steps taken by Licensing Officers to encourage an application from the proprietor of The Cove House Inn., Portland for a licence permitting public entertainment on the premises were appropriate and justified".

The officers presented 'advice' for this meeting, that really gave the members no other choice but to confirm this. They state: "By applying the relevant licensing legislation the council has imposed conditions and restrictions on Mr Gall's rights (of freedom of expression), that are legal, necessary and proportionate in the interests of public safety, control of nuisance and the prevention of crime and disorder.

They admit that no public complaint was ever received about the session and no additional safety, noise, or crime measures were required to enable the granting of the PEL. In other words everyone was just as safe before this action as they now are with a PEL and there were clearly never any grounds for preventing for six months, my right of freedom of expression contained in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights?