Mudcat Café message #856887 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #55211   Message #856887
Posted By: Nemesis
01-Jan-03 - 06:45 PM
Thread Name: PEL: Inner working of Minister's minds?
Subject: PEL: Inner working of Minister's minds?
Just to add to the sum of information available about the PEL debate here is a copy of a letter I was passed from Tessa Jowell replying to Francis Maude

The Rt Hon Tessa jowell MP
Secretary of State
Department for Culture, Media and Sport        
2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH
Tet 020 72116243
Fax 020 72116249

The Rt Hon Francis Maude MP
House of Commons
SW1A OAA        December 2002

Thank you for your letter of 2 December, enclosing another from your constituents Ms Anne Sartain and Mr Alan Wheeler of ** *********** ****, Horsham, West Sussex, in connection with the proposed reform of the current public entertainment licensing system.

I appreciate Ms Sartain's and Mr Wheeler's concerns with regard to the proposals but would like to assure you that the new licensing system will provide increased opportunities for musicians and other performers to stage local activities. It may be helpful if I explain in detail what is proposed. Although the "two in a bar rule", which is an exemption from the normal requirement for a public entertainment licence, will be abolished because one musician with modern amplification can make as much noise as three without, I am confident that the proposed reforms will provide a licensing framework within which musical performance and dance could thrive and develop, while providing adequate protection for the local people in the community.

Under the new licensing regime, the concept of a public entertainment licence will completely disappear. Permission to sell alcohol, provide public entertainment, stage a play, show a film or provide late night refreshment will be integrated into a single licence - the "premises licence". This will integrate six existing licensing regimes into one, cutting at a stroke significant amounts of red tape. Accordingly, under our proposals, any public house will need to obtain permission to sell alcohol for consumption on those premises and will be free to apply simultaneously for permission to put on music or dancing or similar entertainment whenever desired. The fee for such a premises licence will be no different whether the pub simply seeks permission to sell alcohol or if it decides to go for multiple permissions. There will therefore be no deterrent to seeking multiple permissions. The position now is that many pubs are wary of obtaining a separate public entertainment licence because the costs can be prohibitive in some local authority areas. Subject to our continuing discussions with stakeholders, any variation in fees will more likely relate to the capacity of the venue so that smaller venues pay less than large ones. The fees will also be set centrally by the Secretary of State to eradicate the wide and sometimes unjustified inconsistencies that presently exist

The premises licence will also set the hours that the premises may open for its activities, and set fair, necessary and proportionate conditions under which these activities may take place. This will achieve three important purposes: the prevention of crime and disorder; the assurance of public safety; and the prevention of undue public nuisance. It is essential that the greater freedom and opportunities which, wll be available to licensees and performers to stage local activities are balanced with powers to deal with the small minority who might abuse such freedom, damage communities and bring the industry into disrepute. Under the new regime, local residents will have the right to object to the grant of a licence or certain parts of the operator's proposals and to have their views considered. This means, for example, that any conditions affecting noise being emitted from the premises might be more restrictive after say midnight, than before.

Public entertainment, which will be covered by the premise., 'Licence, will be defined as music or dancing, or entertainment of a like kind, which is presented publicly for commercial purposes or for gain. Your constituent's may wish to note that the current legislation applies to public performances put on by licensed premises only to entertain the public and should not prevent people from singing together in licensed premises. This will not change under the new system.

We will not accept that certain types of music, for example acoustic, are never noisy" or that they should be excluded from the licensing regime. If public music is to be performed at a premises, then the licensing authority will have the power to impose necessary and proportionate conditions in order to protect residents and customers. The conditions will not be standardised. The licensing authority will be required to tailor them to the style of venue. Major venues staging rock bands will be likely to be the subject of more restrictive conditions than a small pub or club which puts on unamplified live music.

The new reform Bill will require local authorities to follow rules and procedures. They will have no discretion to refuse a licence or impose any condition unless the police, an environmental health officer, the fire authority or local residents have raised a reasonable objection to the licensee's operating plan. In granting or refusing licences, or imposing any conditions, the local council will be legally bound to take account guidance issued by the Secretary of State. Departure from this guidance, without a good or valid reason, will provide grounds for an appeal to the courts.

As you may be aware, the Licensing Bill was introduced to Parliament on 14 November. It must now be for Parliament to debate and decide upon the Bill's merits.