Mudcat Café message #709950 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #46702   Message #709950
Posted By: The Shambles
13-May-02 - 02:47 AM
Thread Name: UK catters be useful TODAY
Subject: RE: UK catters be useful TODAY
Commments on the first part of Dr Howells's reply

I share your constituent's concern about the current restrictions relating to the provision of entertainment in public places and can assure him that the Government's far-reaching licensing reform proposals will simplify and integrate the licensing regimes so that it is easier and less expensive for public houses to obtain the necessary permission to stage musical performances.

This is the Minister responsible for culture speaking about obtaining and paying for official "permission" to make music, under a so-called reform.

TheTaliban's recent equivalent would have been widely criticised for expressing similar views. Especially from his own side by permanently linking together alcohol consumption and music making. For the reform is also for premises where no liquor licence is present. This would include youth clubs and coffee bars where those under aged for liquor licensed premises could make music. This music making, without alcohol being thought to be automatically necessary, should surely be encouraged?

As Mr Gall has rightly remarked, the main purpose of licensing legislation is to ensure public safety on premises, whatever the nature of the event may be, and to prevent undue disturbance to local residents.

If it is the specific purpose of entertainment licensing legislation to do this, it may be a good idea to consider first, if in fact this aim has already been achieved. Certainly in the case of liquor-licensed premises and others where people are employed in a workplace, the public's safety has already be achieved by current health and safety legislation, risk assessment and inspection.

There only needs to be any action to prevent undue disturbance to local residents, if, when and where such a problem occurs, not blanket coverage of all premises, involving the prevention of any music, just in case this disturbance may possibly be a factor. Focusing on this must be the correct, cheapest and most effective way of dealing with noise, whether this emanates from music or not. All music is not noise and all noise is not music.

It is the statutory duty of local councils to take these factors into consideration when determining applications for public entertainment licenses. The current exemption from the normal requirement for a public entertainment licence, i.e. the "two in a bar rule" has widely been recognized as ineffective in preventing noise nuisance.

It is still the statutory duty of local councils to take these factors into consideration even when no such application is made and where music under the 'two in a bar rule' exemption is being made. Courts can place maximum capacity and conditions for noise concerns on current liquor licence applications. Officers choose the lazy and unacceptable way of dealing with this problem by the use of PELs (and the new premises licence) which risks music being prevented, if the licensee chooses not to apply. A method however, which does result in PEL revenue for the council.

Many premises providing some form of music, and currently exempt from the PEL requirement may, if these reforms are introduced, never choose to apply for the entertainment element. Any music made subsequently on these premises will automatically be illegal, although in fact may be perfectly safe and presenting no threat to the public's interest. Valuable officer time and increased resources will be taken up in checking, enforcing and prosecuting what before the reform was considered to be perfectly acceptable and safe music making.

The very real possibility exists that the new legislation will be ignored in many premises and music making will continue as a common underground criminal activity, to the benefit of no one.

The purpose of this reform is surely not to make and have to pursue yet more criminals? I fear this would be the result.