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Sessions under threat in UK?

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McGrath of Harlow 05 Feb 01 - 07:31 AM
GUEST 05 Feb 01 - 11:50 AM
Richard Bridge 05 Feb 01 - 12:17 PM
GUEST,Hamish Birchall 05 Feb 01 - 01:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Feb 01 - 01:30 PM
Ella who is Sooze 05 Feb 01 - 01:45 PM
GUEST,~Walkabout Cookie 05 Feb 01 - 01:51 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Feb 01 - 01:57 PM
GUEST 05 Feb 01 - 02:16 PM
The Shambles 05 Feb 01 - 03:05 PM
The Shambles 05 Feb 01 - 03:22 PM
GUEST,Hamish 05 Feb 01 - 04:23 PM
The Shambles 05 Feb 01 - 06:54 PM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Feb 01 - 01:43 PM
Liz the Squeak 06 Feb 01 - 03:28 PM
The Shambles 07 Feb 01 - 02:33 AM
Richard Bridge 07 Feb 01 - 12:38 PM
FOG(Friend of Gnome) 07 Feb 01 - 06:48 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Feb 01 - 08:07 PM
GUEST,Hamish Birchall 08 Feb 01 - 01:37 AM
The Shambles 08 Feb 01 - 02:06 PM
GUEST,CraigS 08 Feb 01 - 02:59 PM
Snuffy 08 Feb 01 - 05:50 PM
Richard Bridge 08 Feb 01 - 06:38 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Feb 01 - 08:01 PM
GUEST,Hamish Birchall 09 Feb 01 - 04:02 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 09 Feb 01 - 06:46 AM
GUEST,CraigS 09 Feb 01 - 09:33 AM
The Shambles 09 Feb 01 - 09:40 AM
wes.w 09 Feb 01 - 09:54 AM
GUEST,Hamish Birchall 09 Feb 01 - 10:39 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 09 Feb 01 - 10:44 AM
nutty 09 Feb 01 - 01:12 PM
McGrath of Harlow 09 Feb 01 - 03:38 PM
The Shambles 09 Feb 01 - 05:39 PM
McGrath of Harlow 09 Feb 01 - 06:32 PM
The Shambles 10 Feb 01 - 06:39 PM
GUEST,oh-no 11 Feb 01 - 12:22 AM
The Shambles 11 Feb 01 - 02:43 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Feb 01 - 03:24 PM
GUEST,Chris Nixon 11 Feb 01 - 05:22 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Feb 01 - 05:55 PM
menzze 12 Feb 01 - 10:02 AM
menzze 13 Feb 01 - 03:11 PM
GUEST,The Celtic Bard 13 Feb 01 - 03:47 PM
menzze 13 Feb 01 - 06:24 PM
The Shambles 13 Feb 01 - 11:06 PM
GUEST,oh-no 14 Feb 01 - 12:37 AM
The Shambles 14 Feb 01 - 06:38 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 14 Feb 01 - 06:45 AM
GUEST,Trevor Gilson 14 Feb 01 - 04:32 PM
The Shambles 14 Feb 01 - 08:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Feb 01 - 08:43 PM
The Shambles 15 Feb 01 - 02:06 AM
The Shambles 15 Feb 01 - 02:15 AM
The Shambles 15 Feb 01 - 03:00 AM
The Shambles 17 Feb 01 - 05:07 AM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Feb 01 - 03:56 PM
The Shambles 18 Feb 01 - 02:35 AM
GUEST,Hamish Birchall 18 Feb 01 - 04:35 AM
Mr Red 18 Feb 01 - 10:20 AM
The Shambles 22 Feb 01 - 01:59 PM
menzze 09 Mar 01 - 06:27 AM
Snuffy 09 Mar 01 - 08:56 AM
Lady McMoo 09 Mar 01 - 09:18 AM
Snuffy 09 Mar 01 - 09:32 AM
Lady McMoo 09 Mar 01 - 09:44 AM
menzze 09 Mar 01 - 11:20 AM
The Shambles 09 Mar 01 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,CraigS 10 Mar 01 - 04:02 PM
menzze 11 Mar 01 - 03:56 PM
menzze 05 Apr 01 - 07:11 AM
The Shambles 06 Apr 01 - 06:53 AM
Les from Hull 06 Apr 01 - 07:46 AM
GUEST,Bob Lloyd 06 Apr 01 - 08:16 AM
The Shambles 06 Apr 01 - 10:38 AM
The Shambles 06 Apr 01 - 10:55 AM
wysiwyg 06 Apr 01 - 11:07 AM
Les from Hull 06 Apr 01 - 12:25 PM
The Shambles 06 Apr 01 - 03:15 PM
The Shambles 07 Apr 01 - 05:31 AM
Nemesis 07 Apr 01 - 05:11 PM
GUEST,Hamish Birchall 09 Apr 01 - 03:16 AM
The Shambles 09 Apr 01 - 01:34 PM
GUEST,Bob Lloyd 10 Apr 01 - 08:15 AM
The Shambles 10 Apr 01 - 01:02 PM
Les from Hull 10 Apr 01 - 01:12 PM
Nemesis 10 Apr 01 - 07:06 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Apr 01 - 07:29 PM
harlow ivan 10 Apr 01 - 08:10 PM
The Shambles 11 Apr 01 - 06:47 AM
GUEST,Hamish Birchall 11 Apr 01 - 08:04 AM
GUEST,Hamish Birchall 11 Apr 01 - 08:34 AM
JudeL 12 Apr 01 - 07:18 AM
The Shambles 16 Apr 01 - 06:18 AM
The Shambles 16 Apr 01 - 06:25 AM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Apr 01 - 06:50 PM
The Shambles 17 Apr 01 - 02:35 AM
GUEST,Bob Lloyd 17 Apr 01 - 08:12 AM
The Shambles 18 Apr 01 - 03:10 AM
ET 13 Dec 02 - 02:26 AM
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Subject: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Feb 01 - 07:31 AM

This is really part 2 to a thread called HELP with UK Music Licencing problem? which was getting a bit long. (And I've changed the name, because we could do with a few other people contributing, and I thought a name change might help there.)

We've been exchanging comments and information about the legal situation as regards informal sessions in pubs in the UK. The current situation is very unclear, and the law is applied very in consistently all over the place, and it gets in the way of us playing sometimes.

But new legislation is pending,and we are trying to sort out what people can do to try and make it sensible and helpful rather than the reverse. And one thing we need is information about what happens elsewhere in the European Union, especially maybe in Ireland, in case someone's got it right (or dramatically wrong, for that matter.)


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Feb 01 - 11:50 AM

It was a really good idea to retitle this, Kevin. I did a little skimming in the first thread, now that you have started this one-- I had no idea. How awful!

I would like to suggest that you might want to write a brief summary of the situation and of what sorts of helps you are asking for.

Also, would an international e-mail campaign from musicians make any difference as legislation is considered? What about involving US arts and folk preservation organizations to bring greater visibility to the insanity factor about this? If you can focus your thought somewhat on how non-UK Mudcatters could help-- good Lord. The birth mother of what we all treasure, muzzled! You might find a large hue and cry available, if those of you in the UK with understanding of the laws and politics could help aim the force.

If you UK-ers could come up with an idea along those lines, you could start a thread aimed directly at asking for international Mudcat help and titled clearly in that vein.

Another approach-- here in the US, legislative issues frequently involve a series of Public Hearings where special interest groups' representatives, and others affected by the impending legislation, come present their viewpoint. Now, if the Chieftains were to show up at a US hearing on a similar topic, to "testify" in full instrumental array.... LOL!

Then there is the US Save the Music effort. Can you pull in a commercial sponsor who would help lobby and raise awareness? Who benefits if things are left unlicensed? Get them organized.

Finally-- have you asked Big Mick how to leverage this thing? I would think he would have tremendous ideas about turning out a large amount of support.

Ironic. Here we are pissing and moaning about US politics when this is going on. Kinda makes ya think.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Feb 01 - 12:17 PM

Has anyone asked the EFDSS? The same thing would apply to dancers too


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,Hamish Birchall
Date: 05 Feb 01 - 01:00 PM

Following requests for more info: Section 182 is part of the 1964 Licensing Act. This is the Clause, with notes, adapted from Pattersons 1999 (a standard law reference book):

182.1 Relaxation, with respect to licensed premises, of law relating to music and dancing licences and billiards. No statutory regulations for music and dancing(1) shall apply to licensed premises(2) so as to require any licence for the provision in the premises of public entertainment by the reproduction of wireless (including television) broadcasts [or of programmes included in any programme service (within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 1990) other than a sound or television broadcasting service],(3) or of public entertainment by way of music and singing only which is provided solely by the reproduction of recorded sound, or by not more than two performers, or sometimes in one of those ways and sometimes in the other.(4)

182.2 ….5 Previous corresponding enactment: Licensing Act 1961, s.23 (2), (3).

NOTES (1) See s.201(1), post. (2) See s.200(1), post. (3) Words inserted by Broadcasting Act 1990, s.203(2), Sch.20, para 7. (4) However a combination of any of these alternatives, e.g. recorded sound and one or two live performers playing at the same time would require an entertainment licence. The use of a karaoke machine in a public house should be covered by an entertainment licence. (5) Repealed by the Billiards (Abolition of Restrictions) Act 1987, s.1, Schedule.

* * * * *

Note that the clause is an exemption from the general requirement that all public entertainment should be licensed. The definitions of public entertainment that apply occur in the London Government Act 1963 (for premises inside London) and the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions)Act 1982 (premises outside London). (If you want more info on this pls let me know).

Andrew Cunningham is the Home Office civil servant who wrote the licensing White Paper. Consultation is officially over, and at this stage Government lawyers will be sketching out the wording of a new Bill.

Mr Cunningham is also, in effect, a Government spokesman in that he gives talks and presentations to industry conferences/meetings about the future of licensing. He would probably respond positively to an invitation from an organisation representing folk musicians.

I should be meeting Andrew Cunningham sometime in the next two/three weeks as part of the Arts Council consultation. I have already promised to include statements/representations from folk musicians who have contacted me directly, and to draw attention to the existence of this discussion forum.

If you have first-hand experience of local authority enforcement of PELs, including conditions/fees that have prevented local performance, please either copy to me or write direct to the Home Office (Andrew Cunningham or Lord Bassam). However, a co-ordinated approach would be better - and not being a folk musician myself, you will know far better than me the channels of communication which might be used to lobby organisations that represent folk music.

You might also contact your Regional Arts Board, and ask to speak to whoever is responsible for the 'social inclusion' policy there. The connection between this new responsibility and the need for licensing reform for live music has now been accepted by the Arts Council. By all means mention that I am working with Nikki Crane at the Arts Council of England on this (0207-333 0100).

Last but not least, try to find local press/tv reporters with an interest.

Yours Hamish ham.drum@virgin.net


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Feb 01 - 01:30 PM

Good stuff Hamish! Or rather, probably not that good stuff, but the stuff we need.

But GUEST, (whom I assume is someone with a cookie gone walkabout rather than someone seeking anonymity, so I'll break my normal rule ignoring anonymous GUESTS), I wouldn't panic too much. We're pretty used to operating with a silly law that doesn't get enforced much of the time, partly because it wouldn't stand up in court.

But it might help perhaps if people in America wrote to tourist offices indicating that your plans to come to England and spend enormous amounts of money here are now at risk because you've heard that informal music and singing sessions may not be going to be allowed in pubs here; so you'll probably be spending all that lovely money in Ireland or somewhere. Especially people with Texas addresses, because the tourist people probably think you are all millionaires...

And what would also be helpful, as I said, was information about places where informal sessions in licensed (or for that matter unlicensed premises are allowed to take place without restricted entertainment licences etc. From countries in the European Union especially, because the same essential Human Rights provision applies to us all (and it's not the same as that in America, which is why for example you can still have executions over there, and what counts as protected free speech isn't quite the same).


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: Ella who is Sooze
Date: 05 Feb 01 - 01:45 PM

grrrrrrrrrrrr...... RULES....... ggrrrrrrrrr I hate them..... grrrrrrrrrr

bloomin poxy pen pushers jobsworths....

grrrrrrrrrrrr spoil all our fun, and waste their time on all the wrong things...

grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

sorry but all this make me mad, I get so annoyed with the petty beaurocracy (spelt wrong - but it's a dyslexics curse I am afraed)

grrrrrrr

Ella.... (off to a session tonight....) grrrr


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,~Walkabout Cookie
Date: 05 Feb 01 - 01:51 PM

Aw, I thought you'd know it was me, Kevin!

How many Susans do you know who ~squiggle~?

~S~

(AKA Praise)


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Feb 01 - 01:57 PM

I thought it might be you. A clear case of MCS - multiple cookie syndrome.

I think once we've got the precise facts and targets sorted out, this could be fun...


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Feb 01 - 02:16 PM

This is off topic, sorry folks.

Kevin,

You know... some days... that cookie is just too damn heavy to carry. A millstone. Some of my "fans" search up my posts to make mischief, and frankly I feel one of those times coming on. The e-mail mischief is already running, and the flames usually follow. And then I may as well be invisible, obscured under the efforts people make to "defend" as others "attack." And it has nothing to do, really, with me.

And sometimes people will not listen to what I say just because it is me saying it and they have a skewed view. Mostly I sign the posts when I go coookieless, though I don't always enter a name in the who-from field. So my name being there in the post list doesn't get someone's blood boiling before even seeing what I may have said. And one thing I noticed awhile back is that there are a lot of people at the Mudcat who never realize that every one of us is growing and changing and learning and re-evaluating every day. I could post that I have decided to give up Christ and become a satanist, and people would still call me that sanctimonious proselytizing bitch Praise!

To "come back" to Mudcat I had to reclaim my voice, and it was hard. I drowned for awhile in opinions; I could hardly turn around some days. I came back very quiet, very bland, very timid. But I kept working on what was making that happen in me. Now, I post as frankly with the cookie as without. But the cookie price is not a cost I can always pay; some days I just am not up to it.

But see, I think if what I have to say is worth anything at all, it doesn't matter who is saying it, or if people know who did... it's the thoughts that count, if they are worth anything at all. I finally learned how to be, here. How to BE HERE. And that is, however I feel like being from one moment to the next. These occasional breaks from the cookies are a real challenge to discipline-- to think and write without leaning on or defending against the stereotypes.. it's a new form of participating, for me. If anyone has a problem with the motives or the means... it's too bad. I am the same Susan, regardless. Just a human bean trying to sprout, like everyone else.

And I am not hiding. I speak about it openly just like this post. I am just not waving flags anymore except when the subject matter warrants it. Because I learned that people will thrust those flags into my hands whether they are mine or not, whether they are flags I would even recognize.

Some people put these sorts of thoughts into PMs. I think PMs are sometimes a crutch. I'm just as happy to have it all in the open, visible.

Thanks for listening, Kevin. You have been a good friend.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 Feb 01 - 03:05 PM

My thanks to Kevin for giving part two a new name. As a result of all this I do now know how to spell licensing, and it was a source of much irritation to keep seeing my spelling of it as licencing in the thread title.

This is a short account of the effect, in personal terms of the existing legislation.

In December 2000 I obtained the licensee's permission to hold an informal tradition tune session at my local pub. The local authority's enforcement officer visited one of these nights, and issued a letter stating that they had counted five performers and threatened prosecution under Section 182 of the Licensing Act 1964.

The interpretation was that, they had witnessed more than two performers providing a public entertainment, requiring that the premises hold an additional Public Entertainment Licence. Two or less would not require such a licence.

The issues of noise or of public safety are already covered by existing licenses and other legislation and HM Government have indicated that they do not wish local authorities to threaten prosecution, under these circumstances and they have indicated that these Section 182 requirements are to go anyway.

I have made my local authority aware of HM Government's comments (full text from The House of Lords, can be found in the first thread), and we await their decision.

It is no small thing for me when a friend (the licensee), is being threatened with prosecution and a possible large fine for providing a place to make traditional music, and that largely as a favour to me.

The musicians involved are the ones most effected by this decision, but are pretty powerless and unable to do much without making the situation more difficult for the licensee.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 Feb 01 - 03:22 PM

Public Entertainment Licensing - Fees And Conditions

Liquor, Gambling and Data Protection Unit
Constitutional and Community Policy Directorate
50 Queen Anne's Gate
London SW1H 9AT

Switchboard: 020 7273 4000
Direct fax: 020 7273 3205
Direct line: 020 7273 2466

Email: LGDPU@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

10 April 2000
Chief Executives of District Councils in England
Chief Executives of Unitary Authorities in England and Wales
Chief Executive of London Borough Councils
Town Clerk of the City of London

1. This guidance is issued jointly by the Home Office and the Local Government Association. Its purpose is to inform local authorities of the basis on which fees should be set, and the purpose of any conditions imposed, for public entertainments and similar events licensed under the following legislation:

 Section 1, Schedule 1 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982

 Section 52, Schedule 12 London Government Act 1963

 Theatres Act 1968

2. Proposals for the longer-term reform of entertainment licensing are set out in the White Paper on licensing which has now been published. Local authorities should have regard to the guidance contained in this letter pending implementation of these wider reforms.

Background

3. The Local Government Association and the Home Office have recently been in discussion about the level of fees charged by some local authorities for public entertainment licences and apparent inconsistencies between local authorities. Concerns have also been expressed about seemingly unreasonable conditions attached to some public entertainment licences, which add to the costs involved.

4. There are grounds for concern that particularly high fees and associated costs are deterring some organisers from offering entertainments, with knock on effects for performers, venues and the wider leisure industry. A thriving public entertainment sector has a key role in promoting tourism. It is therefore important to ensure that the burdens imposed by the necessary licensing of these events are justified.

5. The current legislation governing public entertainment licensing gives local authorities considerable discretion with regard to fees and conditions, given the mutual impact of local circumstances and the management of public events. Nevertheless, there are fundamental principles of fairness, transparency and consistency that should be applied to the administration of public entertainment licensing as they are to any other enforcement regime.

Basis for licence fees

6. Existing legislation does not provide for any single fee structure. But case law has established that local authorities are entitled to recover the cost of administering a licensing scheme, provided that allowance is made for exemptions or reductions for charities (Rv Greater London Council ex parte Rank Organisation Ltd 1982). It has also been determined that local authorities are not empowered to raise revenue through a licensing scheme (Rv Manchester City Council, ex parte Donald King 1991).

7. Most local authorities seek to recover their costs by setting bands of fees for occasional and annual licences, either together or separately, based on the maximum capacity for the event or venue. This is usually in the form of one fee, according to band, or a flat rate for all applicants supplemented by a top up determined by capacity or actual cost recovery. In many cases the size of the event or venue is probably a broad reflection of the time and resources a local authority needs to devote to issuing a licence and can therefore provide a useful rule of thumb in establishing a fee structure. It should be recognised, however, that this has the potential to work unfairly in individual cases.

8. Submissions have been received by the Home Office from various bodies engaged in event management and performance which suggest that, irrespective of the fee structure, some authorities may be setting fees which are over and above the cost recovery criteria allowed for by the existing legislation. The evidence indicates significant inconsistencies between fees for events which appear to be similar in terms of their nature, venues, organisers and numbers of people attending. Differences of several thousands of pounds have been reported with a higher fee being charged even when the local authority input was minimal.

9. Local authorities are therefore now asked to review their fee structure for entertainment licensing to ensure that it is defensible and proportionate in the light of the principles outlined earlier in this letter. Local authorities are particularly urged to bear in mind the following:

Cost recovery: this relates to reasonable charges to cover administration, inspection, and enforcement in respect of public entertainment licensing only. Anything over and above that which is included in the calculation of public entertainment licence fees would be ultra vires.

Reasonableness: local authorities should review their procedures to ensure that the expenditure they currently incur in administering various aspects of the licensing regime is always necessary to meet the requirements for licensing events in their area. In considering whether charges are reasonable the need for specific actions, and the resources devoted to them, should be addressed as well as the basic fee structure.

Charities: reductions or exemptions for charities in terms of entertainment licence fees must be discounted against the cost of administering the licence system. Any attempt to include these in the estimate of the overall expenditure on entertainment licensing would have the effect of transferring the expenditure to other licence fee payers and, again, would be ultra vires.

Flexibility: local authorities should be prepared to charge lower fees than those proposed in their fee structure where this is justified. This is particularly relevant to repeat events where knowledge of the organisers and venue is good and little work is required of the local authority. In those cases especially they should keep in mind the potential impact on venues and performers of high fee levels.

Benchmarking: local authorities should have regard to the charges levied in other areas. This can be pursued both through national and regional licensing fora, and individually. The purpose of this exercise is to keep fees as low as possible, rather than raise them. There may be valid reasons for some differences between areas but local authorities are asked to investigate when comparable fees are lower and consider whether there are lessons to be learned from the experience of others.

10. In the next few months a sample of fees will be studied to help the Home Office and LGA in assessing the impact of this guidance.

Conditions

11. The purpose of licence conditions is to ensure safety, minimise nuisance and prevent crime and disorder. The nature of any conditions that are attached to a licence inevitably varies according to the venue, the event and local considerations. But there are concerns that some conditions are excessive, that they replicate other regulations or are inappropriate to the premises or event. Compliance with conditions clearly adds to the cost of the licence and it is therefore important that local authorities ensure that they are reasonable.

12. All local authorities are urged to review their licence conditions to ensure that they are relevant for each application and that they achieve the objectives of public entertainment licensing without adding unnecessary burdens for the applicant. Local authorities are specifically asked to review the application of any 'standard' conditions and consider whether they are appropriate. Each application should be treated on its own merit and have conditions attached accordingly. Care should also be taken that conditions do not unnecessarily duplicate or overlap with existing regulation where this is adequate for the purpose of the licence.

13. By way of example, the Home Office has received complaints that some licensing authorities have insisted on a condition that all electrical wiring equipment must conform to current building regulations, even though there is no question of its safety and adequacy. In the Home Office's view such conditions are excessive.

14. The Local Government Association recently invited a working group of the Local Government Licensing Forum to examine public entertainment licensing conditions and recommend some reasonable model conditions that could be utilised by local authorities. A consultation draft of the Working Group's findings is available on the Local Government Association's website (www.lga.gov.uk/lga/publicprotection/index.htm)

Conclusion

15. This Guidance is not intended to detract from the efforts of local authorities to manage the administration and enforcement of the public entertainment licensing regime in full accord with the spirit and letter of the law. But transparency is required in the business of local government together with a need to show that decisions and actions are fair. The implementation of Best Value, and impending Government consultation on the future of licensing provide a timely opportunity for all authorities to review this service.

16. We shall continue to monitor the situation with licence fees and conditions and the Home Office will write again to local authorities in six months time for information about the action they have taken as a result of their review of their current arrangements. The Home Office and LGA will also be discussing the processes and procedures for dealing with entertainment licences in the light of other concerns that have been expressed with a view to issuing guidance on that in due course.

ELLIOT GRANT, Head of LGDP, Unit Home Office

BRIAN BRISCOE, Chief Executive, Local Government Association


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,Hamish
Date: 05 Feb 01 - 04:23 PM

To Shambles et al

Musicians are no longer powerless.

In this case their 'freedom of expression' is being prevented for no good reason: no safety risk - no noise complaints.

Under the Human Rights Act, because they are directly affected by the local authority enforcement they could bring a case against the council. Remember: where there are two possible interpretations of the law, one that is compatible with European Convention rights, and one that is not - the compatible interpretation must be adopted.

In other words, counting members of the public as performers where they sing or play an instrument is the incompatible interpretation.

It's worth investigating.

H


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 Feb 01 - 06:54 PM

Well that is the optimistic view

Richard???????????

My view is that, Hamish is probably right but the best approach, under the present hiatus, is to try to create the climate that will ensure that the authority does not take the action.

Once they have, as in my case, any action even if it could be funded and eventually proved successful, will not help the licensee's future relationship with the licensing authority.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Feb 01 - 01:43 PM

I had a look at the site mentioned in the report Shanmbles gave us, for public consultation - www.lga.gov.uk/lga/publicprotection/index.htm

It looks like we missed the boat on that stage of the consultation - I wonder is anyone in the folk world got to get their two-pennyworth in? Still, there's still time to get in, I'd imagine, since I doubt if it's yet gone through the legislative process.

Anyway, I'm going to start working through the various documents we've had on the thread, and mentioned on links etc, and I hope other people will as well. Then, when everyone's a bit clearer about the changes we need, and than the changes we don't want, we can maybe try and get a wider set of people involved.

I agree with Shambles that for licensees to try to fight this one through the courts isn't a wise or a practical proposition. But there are other ways of tackling it.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 06 Feb 01 - 03:28 PM

Doesn't seem to have affected the amount of sessions that Manitas keeps finding.... grumble grumble....

LTS


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 07 Feb 01 - 02:33 AM

Is he a licensing officer then?


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 07 Feb 01 - 12:38 PM

I would be very pessimistic about the Human Rights agument at least in teh UK courts. I went on a course about Human rights just the other day, and many of the arguments that were beign expected to thrive are beign stamped on by the UK courts - leaving those who wish to rely on tehm to exhaust UK remedies (that means going all the way to the House of Lords) beofre going to the foreign court.

That ain't dylexia, it's just lousy typing and the thought that if I correct too much the machine will (as it still sometimes does) eat the post without sending it.

Does anyone know if the EFDSS has put in a submission? Does anyone deal enough with the government to check, or the EFDSS to ask why the *** not - isn't that what representative bodies are for?

I'll mention it at folk lcub commitee toight and see if the club wants me to say something to the government venues provided.

The other peole who ought to have commented would have been the organisers of all folk festivals - ROchester, Broadstars, and Sidmouth to name just a few, that depend on a "fringe" and amateur performers.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: FOG(Friend of Gnome)
Date: 07 Feb 01 - 06:48 PM

Some friends of mine who started a club in Chorley in the North of England found themselves in the bizarre situation on the one hand,that the local councils Leisure and Arts Department were helping and encouraging their efforts with free publicity,flyers etc. while the Public Licensing section were trying to shut them down because more than 2 people were getting up. Beaurocracy disappearing up its own arse or what? Me and my good lady both sing together in the bath. If I can get another young lady to join us and we leave the window open-will they come and close us down?-just a (incredibly optimistic) thought.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Feb 01 - 08:07 PM

But the UK courts don't have the final say. If the courts in England start interpreting the Human Rights requirements in an over-restrictive way, they can expect to be slapped down. I'm not suggesting that this issue is necessarily going to be the one to be fought through the highest level, but there are others that will be.

Still no information from people in any other European country, which really would be helpful in this context. I mean, what happens if a bunch of musicians are playing in the corner of a beer garden in Germany, or a French Cafe, or an Irish pub?

I get a vision of a group playing away in some green coffee-house in Amsterdam and the proprietor comes up and says "You'll have to stop playing that music, we aren't licensed for that kind of stuff". And all round the dope-hazy customers nod their head in solemn agreement.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,Hamish Birchall
Date: 08 Feb 01 - 01:37 AM

The Human Rights argument applied to live music is about 'balancing the right to a good night's sleep with the right to a good night out' (Jack Straw).

It's true that 'freedom of expression' might be countered with 'right to peaceful enjoyment of one's possessions' - both of which feature in the European Convention, and are covered by the Human Rights Act (HRA).

But where local authorities are in real danger of falling foul of the HRA is when they prevent live performance where there are no noise or safety concerns. The present law allows them to do that, and we know that this is common practice.

My argument is that such enforcement fails the strict 'proportionality' tests that must be passed (under the HRA) before local authorities may interfere with Convention rights, and would therefore be unlawful. Even the Home Office is prepared to concede this (off the record of course).

Using live music to discover all sorts of public safety problems in a pub is a neat way for the local authority to deflect attention from the fact that has failed to fulfil its statutory duty to inspect the premises under separate health and safety legislation.

FOG's story is very interesting - a good example of competing agendas within local authorities. Licensing departments appear not to understand that they share responsibility for creating the social and economic conditions in which everyone can 'participate freely in the cultural life of the community' (Article 27 Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

By the way, the 'three-in-a-bath' performance is definitely breaking the law! A £20,000 fine and six months in jail would seem reasonable.

I have not been able to gather much information from abroad except that in Ireland pubs without a live band are the exception (there is certainly no 'two-in-a-bar' rule), in the Netherlands it seems pubs and bars are allowed to put on unrestricted live music because they meet strict safety conditions anyway (mostly - there was a terrible fire in a bar just recently, although no live music was going on at the time). The jazz scene in France and Germany and the Netherlands is certainly healthier than here in the UK. I don't know what the folk scene is like though.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Feb 01 - 02:06 PM

The interesting fact is that during all this recent process, of the licensing officers dispute with the licensee. There was little or no consideration given, certainly from the licensing side, to the musicians involved and the possible effect on them and/or their livelihoods…………… <,b>Nor did I expect them to be…..

That is probably the worst indictment of the present Licensing Act's Section 182, its enforcers and an example of the negative effect it has had on music………..

It may also explain our failure generally to organise and contribute to the proposed new legislation and our general pessimistic attitude to this subject. There are some notable exceptions, such as Hamish and I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank him and others for their efforts on our behalf.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,CraigS
Date: 08 Feb 01 - 02:59 PM

I don't know about the legal side, but I do know this much:

In most of the continental places which have folk music, 1) the entertainment is held in coffee bars, which may or may not sell alcohol;

2) the audience come to see a booked guest;

3) there are no floor singers - records are played instead;

4) the guests are all "booked in" through agents,mainly German, who operate a "circuit" as a "closed shop".

This relates to Germany, the Benelux, and northern France. I know there are bars in Paris where spontaneous entertainments take place, but as far as I know these and other similar sessions involving amateurs are what one would call accoustic sessions, rather than folk sessions with a traditional bias.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: Snuffy
Date: 08 Feb 01 - 05:50 PM

Are we talking about trying to get rid of PEL for any acoustic music, including booked guests and paid admission? I thought the concern was about informal sessions, with people expressing their culture, not sitting on their arses and watching it.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Feb 01 - 06:38 PM

Is anyone organising a sensible (if late) submission on behalf of the Mudcat (with lots of UK members)? Pressure of time precludes me offering. Sham and Magrath may be best placed but if drafting do avoid the inflammatory or argumentative (been t here, done that, failed to persuade DTI who are a s slippery as a bunch of snakes). How the do we organise mudcat signature of the petition?


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Feb 01 - 08:01 PM

I think the simplest thing to ask for would be some kind of provision that acoustic sessions on licensed premises or in similar settings, where no admission charge was made, held with the agreement of the proprietor, would not require any kind of entertainment licence - with the proviso that if there was a proven public nuisance or risk to public safety that would be a valid reason for proprietors stopping a session, and it would be their duty to do so..

A petition along these lines would be a good idea - and I would imagine that it would not be hard to get an lot of people signing it at this year's festivals.

Alongside that, letters to the press, articles in the folk press, and letters to MPs would all help stir it up. And MEPs too, who must be bored out of their crust, and to whom it might offer a chance of getting into the press.(And, as I said earlier, communications from abroad, maybe addressed to the relevant tourist board.)

Oh yes, and there is Liberty (which used to be called The National Council for Civil Liberties) And I think the best way to approach them would be in connection with a real case where the law has deprived people of freedoms they had enjoyed - and Shambles has just such a case. (They should be in a good position to find out how the law here compares with that in other countries and so forth.)


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,Hamish Birchall
Date: 09 Feb 01 - 04:02 AM

Thanks to CraigS for continental info. Very useful.

PELs will effectively disappear in licensed premises if the licensing White Paper is fully implemented as written.

No additional licence should be necessary for acoustic, or even 'semi-acoustic' sessions in pubs, bars etc. This is the view of enlightened civil servants and politicians. Provided pressure is maintained by musicians (the petition is a great idea), writing to MPs, Home Office etc, and engaging local press and TV where sessions are under threat, I think there is a very good chance that the new law will end the present restrictions completely.

One stumbling block, however, is the Local Government Association's opposition to low licences fees, set centrally. This key proposal in the licensing White Paper would effectively reverse the trend of 25 years. High PEL fees, which are common in the bigger cities, are a disincentive to the provision of live music.

Local authorities complain that without the fees, they won't have the resources to fulfil the statutory duties to inspect premises. My argument is that central Government has to make up the shortfall - a consequence of their duty to 'create the social and economic conditions in which rights to participate in the cultural life of the community' can flourish.

The total PEL income for England and Wales is about 11 million UK pounds. This is a small sum in terms of local authority budgets. The benefit to the community of freeing up access to local music more than justifies the principle of centralised funding. It worked up till 1974 - at which point the legislation was amended to allow 'cost recovery' fees. Until then I think PEL fees had been only a few quid a year.

Back to the petition idea: I am presenting case studies to the Arts Council and Home Office on 21 Feb. I realise that's not enough time to get a petition together, but if you want me to forward a particular message (expletives deleted!)please let me know.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 09 Feb 01 - 06:46 AM

We may all have to move to Greece where dancing on the tables & bar tops and spontaneous outbreaks of singing and playing even by tone deaf Englishmen is tolerated. The concept of "kefi" or joi de vivre is encouraged and officialdom ridiculed.

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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,CraigS
Date: 09 Feb 01 - 09:33 AM

Two further points:

1) Back in the 30s 40s 50s 60s it was very common for pubs and clubs to employ a pianist one or two days a week to lead a sing-song session. There was never any trouble in distinguishing that there was only one performer, but most of the audience would be singing. The obvious point is - where is the line drawn, if only a few people are singing at any one time - are they performing or joining in?

2) While listening to Radio 2 I heard a small item which suggests that the PRS are about to go after people using musical items for pub quiz purposes. Should we set up a formal body to anticipate action from this direction?


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 09 Feb 01 - 09:40 AM

I think that he may agree?
Kevin McGrath and myself, have justly earned a reputation on The Mudcat, one that can be clearly demonstrated, of not using just one word when we could used several. Thus the responsibility of drafting a petition, entrusted to either us, would most likely prove to be a wordy and possibly confusing document?

However, Kevin has made a good stab at it above. While I understand the acoustic reference, I think that a specific reference to it, may cause problems in gaining maximum support.? I think it may need to be a little shorter, to be most effective, but still cover the following.

FOLK MUSIC SESSIONS IN PUBS ILLEGAL?

1. Not all musical expression takes place as paid entertainment and that these should be excluded from any licence or scheme that seeks to generate funds for additional controls required for places of paid entertainment

2. All musical expression, taking place on licensed premises, with the permission of the licensee, already possesses all the necessary requirements for noise and public safety considerations, under existing legislation.

3. If there should prove to be issues of noise and public safety that authorities should not view these as reasons to automatically stop the musical expression. That where ever possible, they should use all their expertise to try and help overcome these issues. That the authority be charged to try and ensure that the musical expression can continue rather than only appearing to try to find reasons why it cannot.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: wes.w
Date: 09 Feb 01 - 09:54 AM

CraigS:
1.Guilty until proven innocent?

2.PRS? Anticipate action? A lot of us got bottled by them during informal trad. sessions in a Dorset pub 'near 20 years ago.

Things like this make me wonder why I still live here.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,Hamish Birchall
Date: 09 Feb 01 - 10:39 AM

I've just heard what may be good news. Oxford City Council (OCC) has made a significant u-turn in their regulation of local folk sessions which could set a national precedent. In tandem with local petitions, OCC's decision could resolve some of the difficulties experienced by folk clubs across the country.

You probably know that participatory sessions in a pub called the Old Ale House in Oxford were threatened with closure a few weeks ago by local licensing officers.

The council counted members of the public as 'performers' under s 182 of the Licensing Act 1964, and decided that landlord Sean Donnelly needed a PEL. It is the combined cost of the PEL fee itself and implementing the often mystifying public safety conditions that deter proprietors. Mr Donnelly couldn't justify the cost.

But yesterday (8 Feb)OCC met with local musician and campaigner Bob Lloyd and conceded that separate legislation ensured public safety on the premises, and that in consideration of the fact that there were no noise issues, they would regard the sessions as being on a par with quiz nights - in other words they will now leave them alone.

More info later.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 09 Feb 01 - 10:44 AM

Good news, Hamish (but I'd still rather be in Greece than Oxford!)
RtS


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: nutty
Date: 09 Feb 01 - 01:12 PM

Is there no law like the one that establishes Right of Way
This is not a joke question but PEL's are to protect copyright to some extent but what about playing and singing traditional music - surely a precedent must have been set by now


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Feb 01 - 03:38 PM

That Oxford decision sounds fine. Only problem I have about it is that, if the same situation came up elsewhere, and the people involved tried to use it as a legal precedent, I suspect the court would be likely to see it merely as an exercise by Oxford of its discretion, which didn't have any binding authority.

But it might be worth people locally approaching their own local authorities and asking them to adopt the same policy. Like Nuclear Free Zones, if you remember them, but actually having a local effect.

What I'm not clear about the proposed abolition of PELs for licensed premises is, could that mean that rather than them being free to allow music, they might be even more limited than before? Unable to have music at all. I mean, it is an abolition of the need to get a PEL if you're a licensed premises, or is it an abolition of the right of a licensed premises to apply for a PEL?

I think a petition would be a good thing anyway, even if we're pushing on an open door - and it would be a way of making it more likely that our voices were heard, and make unintended slip-ups in the drafting less likely to happen. And it also might help draw the attention of more people to the existence of sessions. Even among people who go to festivals there are a lot who just aren't aware that there are such things.

I'd go for a simpler petition than Shambles - when it comes to actual legislation drafting inevitably becomes complicated, but I think a petition can be more straightforward:

How about this?:

We believe that people should have the right to sing and play music in the pubs of England, where the landlord agrees, and there should no longer be any laws that limit that right, over and above those that exist to prevent public nuisance because of excessive noise,and danger because of overcrowding.

We call upon Parliament to restore our rights in this matter.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 09 Feb 01 - 05:39 PM

Its getting better. To make it shorter still the last bit could just be "noise and public safety".

Is it just England and pubs then?

Looks like good news from Oxford. Like to see the small print though.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Feb 01 - 06:32 PM

I'm not sure about this, but I'd have thought this is the kind of thing "devolved assemblies" would have the last word on, so the Westminster mob would only be dealing with what happens in English pubs.

Yes, I thought about coffee bars and all, but it gets a bit clumsy for a petition. "Pubs of England" has a ring to it - "Places of public refreshment" wouldn't sound the same. And sessions of this sort currently only seem to take place in pubs, in my experience.

I think keeping it just to pubs gets the foot in the door. But it could be changed to:

We believe that people in England should once again have the right to sing and play music freely, for example in pubs where the landlord agrees, and there should no longer be any laws that limit that right, over and above those that exist to prevent public nuisance and protect public safety.

We call upon Parliament to restore our rights in this matter.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 Feb 01 - 06:39 PM

Seems about right to me. How about you?


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,oh-no
Date: 11 Feb 01 - 12:22 AM

Many years ago I recall being in Pubs in England and Wales where singing was almost assumed and if people harmonised, very popular, there never was a stop made by anyone except if after hours. Then the Land Lord/Lady would ring the Bell etc.

Instruments, we used play all kinds and sometimes there would be a Piano, a Box, Harmonica and Guitar. Never any problems. We used call these Fooo Foos - no idea why, maybe Spike Milligan coined the term.

Why are they getting down on it now? Is it because there is less money in the music bizz there?. Or is it because there is too much music in Pubs. If I remember right, one had to hunt out these little Pubs and some Towns it was nearly impossible to find any.

I am unhappy to read the report and if going for a Vacation restricted sessions would spoil my visit. So count me in the Petition.

typical visit would be Home Counties and perhaps hop over to ROI.

Email-Oh-no-CLICKME


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 Feb 01 - 02:43 PM

The following is from Bob lloyd, who has given permission to pass this on if I thought it would be useful.

Music Sessions can fall foul of the law...

We all like to go to pub sessions where local musicians and singers can share in the pleasure of making folk music. Unfortunately some environmental health departments have viewed this as requiring a Public Entertainment Licence (PEL). What this means in practice is that the landlord can get a phone call from the council saying that a licence is needed if the sessions are to continue and although this is not usually expensive, there's often a catch.<,,br>

The local authority grants a license only once the premises satisfy certain conditions - usually a fire certificate which in turn requires changes to the building such as illuminated fire exit notices, separate power supplies, etc. These changes can escalate the cost of compliance from perhaps a hundred pounds to thousands. Breweries are understandably reluctant to part with this sort of money when there is no chance of increased attendance: it's the customers who are participating! Bottom line - sessions close.

In Oxford, before Christmas, one local session at the Old Ale House pub was the subject of a complaint and this prompted the environmental health department to require a PEL or the session would have to stop. We decided to investigate this and see whether or not we could reach a sensible agreement with the council. First we checked up on the law.

The 1982 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act says that "public dancing or music or any other public entertainment of like kind" requires a licence with an exemption being made if the number of performers does not exceed two. So two people singing is not a problem but if a third joins in a licence is needed. This has achieved notoriety as the "two in a bar rule" and has caused problems for working musicians for years. Not only that, but councils are not at all consistent in the way they apply the rules. In some parts of the country, they have been using the rule as a way of raising revenue because they can set the charge for the licence as high as they like.

This is now all set to change with the preparation of a new licensing bill which will include an entertainment licence automatically as part of the premises licence. The "exemption" will disappear but that doesn't guarantee that music sessions will be safe. With the exemption removed, the conditions which normally apply to the issuing of licences will be determined by local councils - they could simply inherit the old conditions and we could find ourselves in a similar difficult position.

In April 2000, local authorities were issued with guidance from the Home Office about how to handle applications for PELs. They were told not to apply blanket conditions and especially, not to insist on additional conditions which duplicate regulations that already exist. That means that councils can no longer simply insist on a Fire Certificate because if the pub is already safe for customers, it is safe for a participatory music session as well. Unless they are able to show otherwise. The "two in a bar rule" applies to the number of performers, NOT the number present, and therefore cannot be invoked on the grounds of safety.

We put out a notice on the internet to see if the situation had arisen in other parts of the country. Emails flooded in listing sessions that had been closed down, folk clubs which had to close after years of successful activity, sessions which were pounced on as soon as they started. Lots of heat all round.

We decided to approach the local council and the environmental health officers to see what could be done. We circulated local councillors with a description of the problem explaining what damage it did to folk music and the opportunities for participation. We also phoned the environmental health department. The response was very positive. They said they were not trying to shut down the sessions or restrict access to folk music but that where a landlord had already obtained an entertainment licence, they would complain if others were not also expected to comply. The environmental health officer I spoke to was very reasonable and it was clear that they were in an awkward position. If they failed to act, someone would be on their backs.

We asked for an opportunity to make a representation to the Health and Environment Committee and started a petition of all those who were involved in the local sessions. Although given an assurance that our item was on the agenda for the meeting, somehow we were relegated to the end where members of the public are granted the opportunity to speak to the committee. Once the issue was explained, the following was agreed by the meeting:

· The committee did not want to be in conflict with musicians and singers over this issue · The committee wanted to support folk music in pub sessions not close them down. · The sessions could continue without any action being taken by the environmental health department · There would be no threats of prosecution · The officers would draw up recommendations to classify the sessions as participation events and that they would therefore not requires licences. They would bring these recommendations to the next meeting (March) · Before the new legislation comes in, the committee will listen to representations from local musicians and singers to make sure that there will be no problems over licensing issues.

We have been very encouraged by the response of the local council so far. We still have to get a suitable recommendation from the environmental health department but there is every indication that they are trying to be helpful rather than restrictive. If this turns out well, it could be used as a precedent for other sessions who run into difficulties with local authorities. Whilst not all local authorities will react in such a positive way, this does seem to be a reasonably effective approach to the problem.

We would like to thank all those people who provided us with information, advice, signatures on the petition, and general encouragement, and the local councillors for advice on how to approach the relevant committees.

If you need to get hold of further information about any of the above send me an email on BLloyd1@aol.com and I'll send you whatever links I have.

Bob Lloyd
Oxford Feb 2001


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Feb 01 - 03:24 PM

That was an excellent piece by Bob Lloyd.

Our experience over the past few years round here has been that, where pubs have allowed sessions, there haven't been any problems. How far that has been because the local authorities haven't noticed, or have been turning a benevolent blind eye, or have a policy that doesn't see sessions as falling under the entertainment category I couldn't say. It could even have been in some cases that there was a PEL in existence.

That would be in the council areas of Harlow, East Herts and Epping. And it's included pubs where sessions have been regularly flagged up in local papers.

So locally we aren't complaining - but the uncertainty remains, and that probably has made some pubs resistant to the idea of having sessions. And of course, unclear policies can change without warning. And elsewhere the position is clearly very patchy, and bad in some places.

I've thought of approaching local authorities round here for a policy statement - but there's always the worry of that backfiring. "Oh shouldn't we be doing something to stop or regulate this kind of unlicensed activity."

It'd be useful to know where problems have been experienced by sessions, with councils misinterpreting their responsibilities in such a way as to interfere with informal sessions, and how widespread it has been. Is it on the increase? My impression has been that the number of sessions being held in pubs has actually increased over the past decade, but of course that in itself might mean that more places have experienced the kind of problems that Shambles has told us about.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,Chris Nixon
Date: 11 Feb 01 - 05:22 PM

One consideration raised by the last coupla replies - perhaps it's not that the local authority hasn't noticed before, but as with many other areas the fatherless sons in local government have simply discovered another way of raising revenue and aren't really interested either in our safety or our music. And like the man said, how long has it been unlawful for one person to sing and many to join the chorus? If it's any consolation, we had a blinding English music session on the marsh last Friday... Pip pip.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Feb 01 - 05:55 PM

I'm as cynical as anyone about anything to do with politics, but I doubt Chris's speculation there. There's not enough money in it to make it worth the candle.

There are some people around with an instinct for petty bureaucratic bullying, and some jobsworths who are scared they might get into trouble if they aren't carrying out every jot and tittle of the rules; and cutbacks mean that lots of people in local government have got shifted to jobs they don't know anything about.

But I suspect that, if we're becoming more aware of this kind of thing happening, it's more because, on the one hand our communications are becoming better, and on the other there are probably a lot more sessions going on than there have been before, in recent times anyway.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: menzze
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 10:02 AM

I just can't believe what I read here. We live in Europe, do we? Not in Orwell's 1984? On the other hand it reminds me on what England tried to do to the Irish some centuries ago when they tried to forbid to the Irish people to play their own music, to play their own instruments(the harp f.e. and the tradition of the bards, it's political and religious aspects) as a try to destroy the Irish culture and identity by these means. Fortunately the former paddies invented lilting and the musical tradition lived on.

Seems a bit the same, doesn't it?

When people in Germany come together in pubs by chance and an unexpected session starts it may be the owner of the bar to stop them because he doesn't like it (and sometimes it's really the best to avoid serious damage of ears) but I doubt if there is any law against it. Anyway I'll try to make that shure and find out more about the juridical side of this subject.

I'll tell you about as soon as I know.

menzze


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: menzze
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 03:11 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,The Celtic Bard
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 03:47 PM

All these years and folk music is still getting the squeeze? This is starting to sound like the days way back when when you could get killed for singing traditional songs.

Overall, I think it's a real bummer. Folk music by its very nature has always been spontanious, spur of the moment, from the heart, and sung anywhere and anywhen the singers and musicians wanted.

I guess if the British government wants to regulate their own musical heritage into oblivion, that's their business but it sure makes the rest of us a whole lot more miserable.

Good luck.

Rebecca <><


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: menzze
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 06:24 PM

I wrote a request to the German Ministry of Justice to find out if there is anything similar existing here. I'm pretty interested in the answer. Post it as soon as I got it, if they'll answer at all. I've also asked if there is probabely already a European Law which might force England to stop this idiot thing. I keep close.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 11:06 PM

The official view.

THE ………….. PUBLIC HOUSE PUBLIC ENTERTAINMENT LICENCE

The Licensing Manager has passed to me copy correspondence from Mr Gall regarding music performances at the …………….Public House.

The council is aware that the Government published a white paper last year proposing major review of Licensing Legislation. The current legal position however is as regards the licensing of public entertainment is stated in the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 Section 1 and Schedule 1. The act requires that in order to provide live performances of music a Public Entertainment Licence must be obtained from the Local Authority. An exemption from the need to obtain a Licence is contained in Section 182 of the Licensing Act 1964 which includes an exemption for the provision of public entertainment 'by way of music or singing only which is provided …by not more than two performers'.

The Council's Licensing Officers have, on more than one occasion, witnessed performances at the ……….by at least four performers. It has long been established that a Licence is required not just where music is provided by performers to entertain the public but where members of the public themselves participate in music making (Clarke-v- Searle 1793). It is also well established that whether or not a fee is charged for admission to the performance is immaterial to the requirement for a licence (Gregory-v-Tuss 1833).

The entertainment which has been provided at the …………. is clearly public in that it takes place on premises which are open to the public. Of course if Mr Gall and his friends chose to make music together in a private place, whether on premises operated as a private club or in their own homes, a Public Entertainment Licence would not be required although other licensing provisions may apply.

There seems to be some suggestion in Mr Gall's letter that musical performances at ……………….. are impromptu. The Council's Licensing Section is however aware that the musical performances have in the past been advertised in advance in the local press and a sign board at the premises continues to advertise live musical performances on Thursday evenings. It is quite clear that such advertising is intended to attract custom to the premises. …………, operating without a Public Entertainment Licence has enjoyed an unfair commercial advantage over Licensees of the other 65 premises within this Authority who pay an annual Licence fee and abide by the standard conditions attached to all Public Entertainment Licences designed to ensure public safety and to control noise nuisance.

The Council as Licensing Authority has a duty to enforce the law as it stands impartially. I can see no justification for failing to encourage the Licensee of the …………. to apply for a Public Entertainment Licence and, should it become necessary to take enforcement action in the event that unlicensed performances take place on the premises. I understand that the Licensee of the …………. has now submitted an application for a Public Entertainment Licence, which will be considered in the normal way once the 28 day notice period has elapsed.

SIGH!


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,oh-no
Date: 14 Feb 01 - 12:37 AM

Shambles, yes - but what does it mean?

Anyone recall those home made Tea Chest Bass thingies? I remember thumping on one till my fingers were almost bleeding.

Also who remembers songs like Midnight Special? Delia?, Chewinggum Song by Lonnie Donegan? Keep on Truckin? Top of Ole Smokey?

Who remembers Teddy Boys LOL

Steam Trains?

I almost forgot to ask, what is to become of the Trad Jazz Pubs? I recall one great one in Brighton Sussex. I do hope they don't stop them :(


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 14 Feb 01 - 06:38 AM

It means its illegal its immoral or it makes you fat.

1793 indeed.

I do seem to have received permission to make music in my own home, "although other licensing provisions may apply".


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 14 Feb 01 - 06:45 AM

Jazz pubs? Still around: Bull's Head in Barnes, Jagz at The Station in Ascot etc. etc. Lots of pubs round here (Berks/Surrey borders) seem to do live music at least once a week even if it is local metal bands so the problem may be local??
(and see skiffle/Donegan threads Oh-No)
RtS (who still has a pair of drainpipe jeans [but the waistband seems to have shrunk] but lost the sideboards/sideburns some years ago!)


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,Trevor Gilson
Date: 14 Feb 01 - 04:32 PM

This from Ireland:

Many thanks for getting back to me. In regard to traditional music sessions I have never heard of any problems with them here, they happen all the time ad hoc in fact if you were to go in a pub and strike up with guitar and bodrain etc there would definitely be no complaint from any quarter.

Regards

Dave -- * * * * * *

http://www.mayo-ireland.ie/ for sites on Ireland.

Researching your roots? http://bbs.mayo-ireland.ie/webx?

Looking for a chat? http://www.irishchat.net/

E-mail: dave@mayo-ireland.ie


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 14 Feb 01 - 08:03 PM

The end (getting licensed premises to ontain PELs), would appear to justify the means.

Making music illegal, the trampling of basic human rights and the general bad feeling generated, is not important compared to the enforcement officers responsibilty to ensure that premises without a PEL do not gain commercial advantage over those with a PEL.

A consideration certainly, but surely not the most important one?

Is this really their responsibility anyway?


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Feb 01 - 08:43 PM

You left out the name and address of the creep who sent that classic epistle Shambles.

But it's a valuable text. Needs wider distribution.

Clearly, under this interpretation, church services with hymns are very much under threat since a church service "is clearly public in that it takes place on premises which are open to the public." And I have never heard of any exemption under the PEL requirements for church services.

You could ask his advice about that - after all you could well find yourself asked to play in a church service some time, and you want to keep in the right side of the law. (Or if you've got a friendly minister, you could get them to write asking the question.)

With local (and form that matter general) elections due in a couple of months I think whoever decided to send that letter could come to regret it...


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 02:06 AM

It is a sad document yes, but do not be too hard on the young lady in question, she was only doing her job.

As the council's legal officer, she was asked to provide legal support for the action of the enforcement officer

She did a very good job of that.

The problem was caused by the lack of control or guidance given to the enforcement officer. They have made a mistake and been able to get that mistake officialy condoned.

It shows the extent of their power.

Just their expressed opinion of as me as a performer, has made my music making illegal. I have been convicted and punished, without any opportunity to speak in my defence.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 02:15 AM

It may not be the best thing to publicly give out the lady's name and where she can be contacted.

But if you wish to make your views known to her, a personal message to me, will enable me to provide you with an E Mail address.

She did not do quite such a good job of answering many of the other points that I raised, concerning the human rights of those involved and the council's other responsibilties..... She chose to ignore these.

I have asked that she does address these and await her response.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 03:00 AM

I remain convinced that non-UK folk, think we are playing a huge joke on them?


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Feb 01 - 05:07 AM

Not that I am laughing much

Received the following from WPBC's Licensing Manager. 14th February (my only Valentine that day).

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) act 1982
PLACES OF ENTERTAINMENT
THE …. ……. … PORTLAND

A copy of your letter to Peter Gilmore dated 7 February 2001 has been passed to me in order for me to respond to two specific points:

The licensee of … …. …. Applied for a Public Entertainment Licence on 5 February 2001. If no objections are received during the 28 day statutory advertisement/consultation period a full licence Will be issued on or shortly after 5 March 2001. This full licence will then enable the licensee to hold music evenings legitimately.

I can confirm that the Public Enforcement Officer is not scheduled to revisit the premises within the next month unless in response to complaint.

This may appear to solve the problem locally but may not do so for traditional folk music events in general?

For example:

1 If the application fails (for example if it is considered as unsuitable for loud amplified bands), the session would not be legal and the principal that participatory folk music events were Public Entertainment and that those involved we performers, would have been established.

2 If the application succeeds, it may turn out that as the licensee can now "hold music evenings legitimately", they may chose to do just that and arrange a more profitable musical event on that evening? One designed to attract customers rather than one that may risk driving them away.

These possible outcomes are good examples of what happens when free participatory musical expression is caught up in legislation designed for paid public entertainment?

Hopefully the new legislation will recognise this? Maybe it is time that those that love traditional folk music demanded that it does?


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Feb 01 - 03:56 PM

It's occurred to me that public entertainmnet isn't just music; a stand-up comic giving a performance would also be classed as entertainment.

So this would imply that anyone telling a joke in a pub - which by definition is open to the public and therefore "clearly public in that it takes place on premises which are open to the public" should also have a Public Entertainment Licence. And what about outside in the streets? You can't get more "open to the public" than that.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Feb 01 - 02:35 AM

Good point but as far as most official thinking goes, it is the introduction of that great evil music, that is the problem. I pity anyone trying to do anything constructive with dance, for that is even a greater evil.

Everyone is an expert on music and performance it seems?

These are some of the frustrations that I have found, in dealing with officialdom. The idea that music presents some great danger, and must be controlled at all costs, is mow too engrained.

1. No matter how well you may present the case, you are contesting an official action that has already been taken. The person listening will be looking all the time for the reason why this has happened. They will not be happy until they can find one and are wary of agreeing to even the most basic points for fear of being compromised.

2. Everyone it would appear, is an expert on musical matters and performance. When it comes to the nature of participatory folk events it is clear that everyone is not and that this is the root cause of the problem. Unfortunately they do not appear to accept that you may be in a position to inform them. People that have had some musical experience usually understand very easily.

3. You are perceived as making an entire case out of the meaning of one word, when you are in fact suffering from such an action being taken. Because this has been taken and endorsed legally, it follows that there must be a perfectly sound reason for it.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,Hamish Birchall
Date: 18 Feb 01 - 04:35 AM

Public performance with even one performer requires a public entertainment licence in any premises that are not covered by the Licensing Act 1964 (unless it is part of a religious service).

For years local authorities have complained about the two-performer exemption in licensed premises (Section 182). They argued, consistently, that all public entertainment should be licensed. This is effectively what will happen in the new regime. On the other hand excessive fees and conditions, which have caused most of the problems for local gigs, should end. The Government proposed setting low licence fees centrally, and that public safety requirements should not exceed the requirements of existing safety legislation.

But it will take more than a change in the law to alter the mind-set of petty regulation that characterises some licensing departments.

But now that the Arts Council (and very recently EFDSS) has decided to take the entertainment licensing reform seriously, I believe that in time this will ensure that local gigs are treated with the respect they deserve.

Hamish


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: Mr Red
Date: 18 Feb 01 - 10:20 AM

Mc Grath of Harlow Tourist Information Ofices. Local Council's part in all this.

In order to get the local councils on our side we need to educate them that TIC's can play their part in making a town more attractive. At the end of the day, tourists can go back to the camp site/hotel and blob or they can try a free show put on by damn good mucisions (and bodhran players as well). If they don't like it, it costs them nothing to find out.

TIC's are run by local councils. Some TIC's are net aware - just. The barrier is getting TIC's to realise it is better to suggest a fine oak beamed pub with real ale and a session than any old oak beamed pub with real ale. That, I put it to you, is a much harder task than tweaking the councilors noses. Gloucester is lucky, arch folkie Terry Haines is Mayor, the TIC are helpful - I wonder why?.

TIC's are a mixed bunch and given that they shouldn't seek information but disseminated it, some do a pretty abysmal job. I know because I give them my URL - cresby.com and a paper precis of folk stuff in their area when in their town. A year later you can be told there is no info, never given any and when pushed will reluctantly find the wallet/card index labelled "music" (that they most certainly don't have) and grudgingly update the data you give them. I always ask first and inform 2nd because occasionally they know more "locally" than an information junkie like me, but they clam up if you are knowledgeable. Given that, what does Joe Public do when he asks the question? Tell them to look a bit harder? "No" is easier than "I'll look" and they may have part time staff. Some are wonderful, those have a folkie on the staff!

Ireland? they have the "folk" music PR battle sewn-up - all over the world.

Perhaps we should raise the profile of folk just a bit by informing the TIC's ourselves - regularly. If we mean business the councils may be more wary than bullish.

Yours - The Red Boran.

a quiet bodhran player! PS thanks Hamish for info on Ale House - any others you can confirm in Oxford?


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 01:59 PM

The following from Hamish.................

I just want to thank you for taking the time to forward those invaluable statements about your experience of public entertainment licensing and to assure you that they will continue to be put to good use.

As you know, I made an edited compilation for e-mailing purposes. This was sent to the Arts Council, Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and to EFDSS at Cecil Sharp House, musicians and others with an interest, in advance of the meeting held yesterday by the Arts Council.

While the Arts Council's involvement is more for the long-term benefit of local live music, and other performing arts, the powerful criticisms of local authority enforcement contained in your statements can be put to excellent use now. They can and will be used to back up continued lobbying with both the Local Government Association and individual councils.

I don't want to raise premature hopes, but there really does seem to be a new sense of understanding and commitment within the Arts Council - far more understanding in fact than has been demonstrated (so far) by the Department of Culture. The Home Office, represented by Andrew Cunningham, now Head of Liquor Licensing for England and Wales, was also very amenable. But while all the signs are that a new licensing Bill will bring an end to much petty and very damaging enforcement by local authorities, it seems that the new law is very unlikely to come into effect until 2003 at the earliest. It is just such an enormous Bill, superseding at least half-a-dozen other pieces of legislation.

Today I will be going to EFDSS at Cecil Sharp House to discuss with Tim Walker (new Chief Officer), and their new Development Officer, Rupert Redesdale, what form a lobbying campaign will take, and the possibility of a musical 'day of protest' to draw media attention to the extremes of PEL enforcement and the absurdity of the current laws - as demonstrated by your own accounts. I know that many folk musicians have expressed doubts about the past efforts of EFDSS, but my experience over the last couple of weeks suggests that they are now committed to an active campaign.

Once again, thank you. Once today's meeting is over I am sure you will be hearing more from EFDSS, and that this will be the beginning of a campaign with real teeth.

Yours sincerely Hamish Birchall


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: menzze
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 06:27 AM

To McGrath

I had sent a request on this subject to the German ministry of justice to see wether there are any rules or laws concerning this thing in Germany, because you've asked if anybody knows how this is handled in the rest of Europe. I recieved the answer today and I post it here now for you. I'm a bit in a hurry so I found no time to translate it into English. If necessary to translate it for you tell me and can do it within the next few days.

Here is the e-mail from the German ministry of justice:

Betreff: Ihre Anfrage vom 12. Februar 2001 Von: "Glowatzki, Lydia" An: "'menzze@web.de'"

Datum: 06.03.01 16:48 erweiterten Header anzeigen

Sehr geehrter Herr Mendrzyk,

per e-mail vom 12. Februar 2001 baten Sie um Mitteilung, ob es in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland aus Gründen der öffentlichen Sicherheit und Ordnung verboten sei, sich in einer Gastwirtschaft spontan zum Singen und Musizieren in einer Gruppe von mehr als zwei Personen zusammenzufinden.

Hierzu kann ich Ihnen mitteilen, dass bundesrechtliche Vorschriften dieses Inhalts - soweit ersichtlich - nicht existieren. Allerdings fällt das Polizei- und Ordnungsrecht in die Gesetzgebungskompetenz der Länder. Die Abwehr von Gefahren für die öffentliche Sicherheit ist mithin in den einzelnen Bundesländern durch Landesgesetze und -verordnungen unterschiedlich geregelt. Ein generelles Verbot der von Ihnen angesprochenen Art ist mir jedoch aus diesem Bereich genauso wenig bekannt wie eine entsprechende europarechtliche Vorschrift.

Einschränkungen des spontanen Singens und Musizierens in Gaststätten könnten sich somit allenfalls unter dem Aspekt der ebenfalls landesrechtlich geschützten Sonn- und Feiertagsruhe, der Nachtruhe sowie generell des Lärmschutzes von Anwohnern ergeben. Die Verursachung unzulässigen Lärms kann zudem gemäß § 117 OWiG unter bestimmten Voraussetzungen eine bußgeldbewehrte Ordnungswidrigkeit darstellen.

Zu erwähnen ist schließlich auch, dass das Absingen bestimmter Liedtexte - unabhängig von der Anzahl der beteiligten Personen - gegen Strafrechtsnormen verstoßen kannn, etwa weil die Texte beleidigenden oder verunglimpfenden Inhalts sind oder zu Hass und Gewalt aufstacheln.

Darüber hinaus ist selbstverständlich der Hausrechtsinhaber der jeweiligen Gaststätte befugt, das Singen und Musizieren im Gastraum zu unterbinden und bei hartnäckiger Zuwiderhandlung ggf. sogar ein Hausverbot auszusprechen, zu dessen Durchsetzung - falls erforderlich - auch polizeiliche Hilfe in Anspruch genommen werden kann.

In der Hoffnung, Ihnen mit diesen Hinweisen weitergeholfen zu haben, verbleibe ich mit freundlichen Grüßen

Im Auftrag Glowatzki


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: Snuffy
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 08:56 AM

So apparently no licensing problem in Germany - just the normal regulations about public disorder, noise etc. This bit is interesting though (rough translation)

"The singing of certain songs - irrespective of the number of persons taking part - may fall foul of the criminal law, for example because the lyrics have an insulting or derogatory content, or would incite to hatred or violence."

Is there a list of banned songs in Germany, or do they just act on an 'ad hoc' basis?


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: Lady McMoo
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 09:18 AM

I haven't been following the full debate and don't live in the UK any more but just a thought....maybe it's been mentioned before and my apologies if that is the case.

Surely there's a distinction between a "gig" where musicians are paid to provide "entertainment" and a session where normal punters are gathering together in a pub unpaid merely to enjoy their hobby in each others' company. Does that fall under the legal definition of "entertainment"?

mcmoo


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: Snuffy
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 09:32 AM

Mcmoo - See shambles posting of 13th Feb, quoting a council solicitor
It has long been established that a Licence is required not just where music is provided by performers to entertain the public but where members of the public themselves participate in music making (Clarke-v- Searle 1793).


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: Lady McMoo
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 09:44 AM

Many thanks Snuffy, I hadn't seen that.

But the legal point surely still is whether a session constitutes "entertainment" or "a public performance". What is so different about a group of people sharing their love of music together for their own benefit rather than that of an "audience" than a group of people engaged in an animated and loud conversation about, let's say, football in the local pub. Isn't the distinction legally one of intent. In the case of a paid gig, there is clearly an intent to entertain a audience. In the case of a session, the intent is one of enjoying one's hobby with others of a similar mind rather than providing "entertainment" or "a performance"?

Again, probably all this has been discussed before ad infinitum and, if that's the case, my apologies.

mcmoo


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: menzze
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 11:20 AM

What about the rest of the EU countries? How is this handled in Holland, Belgiumm, Danmark, Sweden, France, Austria,Spain,Portugal,Greece, Italie, Ireland(sorry if I've missed some)? I would like to know what kind of experiences there are in the rest of the world.

For example two friends and I went to a pub nearby, run by a friend of ours. He did not know us comming with our instruments neither his guests.We had a session up to 5 o'clock in the morning(locked the door around 1.30 to keep the police outside)and nobody felt upset or deranged by our music by loved it and joined in spontaneously.

To me even the thought of trying to forbid such happenings is an attack on my personal freedom I will fight with all means I have. They have picked my driving license but they'll never steal the freedom and right to make music together with other people from me as long as I live. It may sound a bit pathetic,please get me right, but it's the way I feel.

menzze


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 04:01 PM

No need to apolgise for caring about this issue. I have been beginning to think that not many people did. The total stupidity of this situation just seems to be generally accepted here in the UK?

That 'dusty' legal precedent may possibly demonstrate the need for some licence but not a PEL of course. The PEL was not a requirement in 1793. Maybe a sharp sword or a good horse was?

The point too is that their are many licences already involved in the year 2001 to establish the safety of the public places where the music is being made.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,CraigS
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 04:02 PM

Re: the "certain" German songs:

The law is ambiguous because there are an awful lot of German songs which are offensive/racist/right-wing, but not blatant about it - just as a lot of Irish songs are written to sound inoffensive to the English, but get right up the noses of the opposing factions.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: menzze
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 03:56 PM

These "certain songs" mentioned in the answer of the MoJ are Nazi and Fashist songs. As you know we had our special problems with them in the past and nowadays the number of Neonazis is frightendly rising, especially in the eastern German countries. They dug out these old Nazi stuff and it's disgusting to see and hear them sing these songs which deal with killing Jews and raising a new Nazi Reich.
We have an election on march 25 for the local parliament of Baden-Würtemberg(a country in the south of Germany).At the moment the NPD, a party of the extreme right is in with 5%. I really hope the events of the recent past have wakened the mind of the people not to vote for them again and prevent them from returning into parliament.

We had it once, we don't want nor need them again.

menzze


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: menzze
Date: 05 Apr 01 - 07:11 AM

Sorry for a mistake in the one above. It's not the NPD it is the Republikaner who are in BW's parliament.

But we've thrown 'em out this time

No more Nazis in BW's parliament. I long for the day when we can say this for all of Germany.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 06 Apr 01 - 06:53 AM

Time for an update on things locally, I think.

In short 'zilch'.

The council are still strongly maintaining that 'members of the public are performers'.

To demonstrate the effect that this policy will have I have requested that a meeting with the council members, via the officers,councillors and my local MP, but have yet to get an answer.

I am seen locally as a bit of a 'crank' lone voice and thus easy to ignore.

Allowing for nuisance to others, which the licensee can sort out. I feel that if one does not need any additional licensing to enable to express yourself, in conversation in a pub, nothing further is required to express youself musically.

I would be grateful for any help. Opinions to the council from other parts of the world may help?

If you wish to write and express these opinions to the council, especially if you have knowledge of how more enlightened councils deal with it, send a personal message to me and I will provide the Email address of the man in charge.

There is a national protest being organised, I will post the details here, when I know more.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 06 Apr 01 - 07:46 AM

Bit difficult this, Shambles. Most of us try to keep our heads down just in case we start to draw the flak. It's quite useful that we have had two ex-Councillors come to our regular session, though. And our Council runs an annual Shanty Festival.

Usually the Police will only intervene if it's brought to their attention. They don't like dealing with these cases as they feel that the time they spend on them could be better spent. Especially with Home Office forms to fill in about crime rate and detection rate.

If you can't get a meeting with the Council, you could go to your local Councillors' surgery. Perhaps there is a member of your local Council who would be sufficiently interested to attend the session and find out the difference between a session and a gig? If the Council do get shirty then enlist the power of the local press. They hate it when they are publically ridiculed for taking a sledgehammer to a walnut. And have reserve pubs available if they start to serve papers. 'Cos then they've got to start all over again!

Cheers, Les


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,Bob Lloyd
Date: 06 Apr 01 - 08:16 AM

Unfortunate news from Oxford.

The local council Health and Environment Committee having received a representation from us, and after acknowledging that there should be no problem with music sessions, and also after having said that they were sympathetic to us, have received a recommendation from their officers that they should stick to the status quo.

Their arguments seems to have been that having phoned around and found that everyone else is requiring licences, so should they. They also checked up on the reports that Milton Keynes had a progressive policy - it seems they have reversed it.

They relied on case law from 1793 (that right!) Clarke vs Serle, which classified members of the public as performers, and then decided that having hassled some landlords to get licences which they did, it wouldn't be fair to allow others to have music without one. They stressed that they do no proactively seek out sessions but if there is a complaint - they will act. They ignored all the information about the European Convention on Human Rights, the principle of compatibility, and so on and adopted a pragmatic approach which was that since they'd been OK on this issue up till now, why change.

The councillors, rather than take an initiative and form policy which was why they were elected, chose to meekly follow what was poor advice from their officers.

Perhaps we will appeal - but it was pointed out to me that no-one else in the area had lifted a finger in support of the issue (apart from our petition of several hundred signatures!)and so perhaps people didn't feel too strongly.

One reason people are reluctant to put their heads over the parapet is that it might draw attention to sessions and cause problems. So samizdat folk sessions are OK because they stay invisible but try to encourage others to take part and that causes problems...

I hope the exaggerated reports of success in Oxford have not raised false hopes. It's clear from our experience in Oxford that we cannot assume that councillors, even if they support us, will have the courage to set policy according to their convictions when given advice from officers. Incidentally, the councillors didn't even bother to inform us of the outcome of the last meeting - we had to ferret around and find out ourselves.

It does seem amazing that after the councillors expressed such support for us, that they could be so swayed by reports (which we have still not seen!) from unelected officers, that they were willing to reverse the position they adopted at the previous meeting.

They won't stop the music and they don't seem intent on doing that anyway, and they are very unlikely to get away with prosecuting any of the unfortunate landlords who get threatened. I think what this shows is just how spineless some of our local politicians really are.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 06 Apr 01 - 10:38 AM

Les, I think the time of keeping one's head down are over. It was not as if any of us had gone looking for trouble but trouble has found us anyway

I will be seeing my MP again today, pehaps we all should?

Bob that is sad news indeed and a little surprising, for they seemed to be showing common sense. Could you elaborate a bit? Does it mean that your session cannot now continue without a PEL?


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 06 Apr 01 - 10:55 AM

 Subject to the licensee's responsibility to ensure safety and nuisance to others, you can express yourself verbally in a public house.

 Subject to the above and with the licensee's permission you can also express yourself musically in a public house, without further licensing, such as a Public Entertainment Licence, being required.

 This licensing legislation is for the safety and interests of all members of the public, at staged Public Entertainment with performers. It can really serve no useful purpose when, it is stretched to be used to against and to limit the freedom of expression of, those very same members of the public in establishments where, their safety and interests are already ensured by the council's other statutory duties.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 06 Apr 01 - 11:07 AM

Roger,

Regarding your post above of 06-Apr-01 - 06:53 AM. Is this what you want us to do? Can you post the e-mail address here? Do you want me to post it here as a clicky, like I do sometimers with my own?

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 06 Apr 01 - 12:25 PM

On our regular weekly session the landlord has a sign on the door 'Private Party'. I doubt that it's any protection. Really it's only there so that the landlord can exclude anyone who comes in and demands the Wild Rover. But does anyone know that having the room as a private party precludes it from being a public entertainment?

Les


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 06 Apr 01 - 03:15 PM

Sorry if I have confused the issue. I was just trying to sum up what the issue was.

I don't want to be accused of acting irresponsily by putting the Email address here. I will supply it anyone who PMs me and wishes to speak to them.

Les the private party idea will work, your local authority will be able to supply what they will accept as such. You will have to exclude the public, so there is not much point in holding it a public place and may as well hold it at home. what's the matter with the Wild Rover anyway? Don't answer that.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 07 Apr 01 - 05:31 AM

If councils do not wish to prevent participatory folk events taking place, they cannot maintain that members of the public are performers. For this means that they can hide behind and enforce a law that was never intended to prevent such events.

By their actions they are clearly demonstrating that they positivly intend to prevent participatory folk events.

They cannot have it both ways

They have a duty to encourage such events are are ignoring many other of their statatory duties

OCC's position that they have to continue to treat future events badly because it would be unfair on those that they have treated badly in the past, sounds like a bad Monty Python scetch.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: Nemesis
Date: 07 Apr 01 - 05:11 PM

I wonder if this is the same Andrew Cunningham I used to work with 25 years at Worthing Borough Council? If it is then tell him from me there is hardly any live music left in Worthing - except last night we packed in 100+ people into a pub desperate to hear live music (and it was a sublimely briliant evening: Bing Lyle, Richard Durrant, Tim Kent, Philippe Barnes, Andy Perry, and many, many other talented musicians). This was just about the only venue left in town with a music licence (45 in a town of 100,000) - we need more venues not less!!!

Cheers, Hilary Cook


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,Hamish Birchall
Date: 09 Apr 01 - 03:16 AM

I am sorry about the bad news from Oxford. I have looked into the precedent cited by them in support of counting members of the public as performers. According to the leading authority on PEL law, Dr Colin Manchester, neither Clarke v Searle (1793) or later cases such as McDowell v Maguire (1954) are 'determinative of the question of who counts as a performer under section 182 of the Licensing Act 1964'.

In other words, in respect of informal folk 'sessions' there is 'no decided authority' in support of Oxford, or indeed any other local authority to prevent informal folk sessions in pubs using case law precedent.

Following Dr Manchester's comments I have written this up in an article to be published in Jazzwise at the beginning of May (it's available from most W H Smiths).

I have also written to Oxford City Council asking for comment on Dr Manchester's analysis which would appear to undermine their position. So far no reply.

If it's any consolation to you I am today going to talk to Anthony Lester QC about the issue of local authority PEL enforcement and musicians' freedom of expression. Anthony Lester is a leading human rights lawyer, prime mover of the Human Rights Act here in the UK. He wrote some sections of the European Convention.

The meeting has been set up by Rupert Redesdale, Development Consultant for EFDSS. I am fully aware of the reservations some of you have about EFDSS. I hope their involvement in this meeting signals a new determination to find ways to bring an early end to this absurd and pointless restriction on all kinds of live music performance.

I will let you know how the meeting goes.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 09 Apr 01 - 01:34 PM

Click here. URGENT HELP REQUIRED. That is a thread to collect your thoughts, views or opinions, with intention of showing these to our council's.

A sort of Mudpetition.........

You do not have to be a UK resident, in fact in these days of 'tourist hungry authorities', how this policy is viewed from abroard would be more than useful.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,Bob Lloyd
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 08:15 AM

Thanks Hamish for confirming the case law cannot be taken as definitive. Andrew Smith MP, passed to me a letter from Isobel Garner, the directory of legal and community affairs for the council which cited the 1793 Clarke vs Serle case. I wrote to her before the meeting explaining why it could not be used in that way. I received no reply.

The meeting of the Health and Environment Committee received a report which stated baldly that there was case law to count members of the public as performers.

We know this is factually incorrect and Dr Manchester's confirmation is useful. The bottom line is that the councillors, knowing the relevant information, chose TO DO NOTHING.

Every member of the committee was circulated with information about the European legislation, with the information about case law, with information about how sessions work, with information about why it is so important to folk music. They were all fully informed about what they were entitled to decide upon.

The report from the officers made the points after quoting the legislation: (1) Milton Keynes had reversed their policy because it had become problematic controlling the numbers of people involved. (2) That they had phoned around other neighbouring authorities who all insisted on PELs. (3) That they could not make exceptions for one kind of music only. (4) That they had no proactive policy of checking up on folk music in pubs. (5) That they regarded "impromptu" folk sessions as not falling within the ambit of the PEL regime. (6) That the additional conditions imposed on pubs in order to get a licence is usually about having illuminated lights at the exits (and the power supply for them... )

In this way, they IGNORED the arguments put forward, and decided to DO NOTHING rather than consider changing their present policy. In addition, they have decided to maintain the same kind of prejudiced policy as neighbouring authorities only because the neighbours do it. They were given misleading advice by the officers about what they can decide upon and what they are entitled to do and given the impression that they cannot go against case law from 1793 - as far as I can tell, they were not informed that it dated from 1793 by the officers. Despite me telling him, the chairman of the committee seemed surprised when I reminded him about it on the phone.

Point 5 seems like a minor concession. I think they realise that they would have little chance of convicting anyone of this sort of offence but the threats can still put off any landlords/managers who would otherwise support the music.

People locally are undecided about the next step. The manager of the Old Ale House has now left and it may be that the session will simply move somewhere else until the problem arises again. Although we had lots of support for the petition, no-one seems at all keen to put pen to paper or make a phone call. Lots of verbal support, but no action. Given that situation I'm not sure what the next move is.

I'll be contacting the councillors again once I've received the copies of the reports from the chair of the committee - he promised to send them to me - haven't arrived yet.

There's some local concern that if we raise it in the press, sessions might be targetted in reaction. Personally I don't like hiding under threat! Maybe Mark Thomas C4 ought to have a poke at it!

One thing is certain. Until we force local authorities to take this issue seriously, there will continue to be threat to sessions. Incidentally, the fact that PELs wil disappear under the new legislation doesn't mean that councils will stop imposing silly conditions. The lazy ones will still try to apply standard conditions. When pubs apply for a premises licence, they will have to submit plans for what entertainments they want to have and the local panel will then determine conditions. There is no guarantee that the new legislation will not have similar restrictive conditions - it's just that it won't be legislative so we could challenge them locally.

All the best to everyone trying to get this stupid situation improved.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 01:02 PM

I think point 5 is just a nonsense 'nod' to Lord Bassam and the House of Lords.

What they mean is that if twenty musicians, who just happen to have their instruments with them, just happen to find themselves in a pub together, OK.

However if they wish to do the same next week, it will not be then considered as impromtu.

They must be a rough lot in Milton Keynes then?

I feel this is happening because of the attitude we have held for so long of, keeping one's head down and praying that they do not come for you next?

That attitude just encourages the bully-boy tactics that we are seeing here.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 01:12 PM

Councils should be made to realise that folk sessions are important to tourism. If Scarborough Council took that sort of attitude to sessions in Whitby or in Robin Hood's Bay it would seriously affect the many sessions that happen either during festivals at these places or indeed at other times. Perhaps in the North we are more aware of the value of 'summat for nowt'.

Les


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: Nemesis
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 07:06 PM

Putting this to top


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 07:29 PM

"That they could not make exceptions for one kind of music only." (From Bob Lloyd's last post)

And I should hope not - who wants a session that turns into a "What is Folk?" debate? Live music and I'd say, maybe unamplified music, are the only relevant criteria here.

I suppose what is needed is a test case - but no landlords are likely to risk their licenses, and the chances are any council coming up against one who was would probably quietly turn away. So either way, no test case, and the fact that the current law probably wouldn't stand up under human rights legislation would remain speculative.

Would it be possible in theory to have a test case which wasn't based on a council prosecuting anyone, but was founded on a member of the public seeking an injunction on a council which was pursuing a policy which was unreasonable and offended against human rights provisions?


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: harlow ivan
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 08:10 PM

I think your idea of a test case is on the right lines. We depend on the goodwill of landlords and it's them not us who get the stick if we fight the case on a specific session/pub. A complaint from Joe Bloggs on the grounds that he is being prevented from hearing his favourite! music could be the way to go. The presumtion is that Joe Bloggs is "passive"- that is he doesn't play sing or do anything that might classify him as a "performer".


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 06:47 AM

Kevin to address your point and indeed your earlier suggestion, I have recently written to Liberty, with the details of our treatment here. No reply as yet.

I understand there may be other similar types of action, that you describe, being proposed?

There is also supposed to be a protest day of action?

I think the point is not to rely on any one of these but for all interested parties, that is anyone, individuals or groups, that care about music and the abuse of basic human rights, to stand up now and take what action they can.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,Hamish Birchall
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 08:04 AM

Sorry not to have got back to you sooner following the meeting on Monday with Anthony Lester about freedom of expression vs local authority PEL enforcement. I have been away for a couple of days.

The meeting went well. Lester grasped the issue quickly and is very interested. His main suggestion echoes many of your comments above: a test case is required (not necessarily to go straight to court with). He would study it, and would then write a formal 'opinion'. This can't happen immediately, however, for the simple reason he is working abroad for the next few weeks.

So there is a real prospect of a legal assault on PEL enforcement where it clearly infringes the right to freedom of exression under Article 10 of the European Convention. To have support from the most eminment human rights lawyer in the UK is a great step forward.

Interestingly he knows the New York lawyer (Professor Paul Chevigny)who won the jazz musicians freedom of expression case against very similar laws there in 1988 (a three-musician limit in zoned areas of the city). Lester looked through a copy of the New York judgement which would now form part of any musicians' case here (if anybody would like a copy I could e-mail it).

Tim Walker, EFDSS' Chief Officer, also attended this meeting. May I suggest that, if you haven't already done so, those of you experiencing heavy-handed enforcement should contact Tim as soon as possible. EFDSS are now committed to following this through, and they will need all the information they can get so that a suitable case can be used as an example. EFDSS phone number is: 0207-485 2066.

Among other possible organisations, we are going to involve Jazz Services, which is dedicated solely to the promotion of UK jazz. Chris Hodgkins, Director of Jazz Services, has already been contacted by Tim Walker and will be meeting Tim and me in the next week or two to discuss strategy.

Incidentally, under the Human Rights Act anyone whose European Convention rights are directly affected by local authority enforcement can bring a case against the council. It doesn't have to be the individual who is being prosecuted or threatened with prosecution. In the case of live music in pubs, it therefore doesn't have to be the licensee (in any event his/her freedom of expression is not at issue). There is very clear guidance on all aspects of the Human Rights Act on the Home Office website: www.homeoffice.gov.uk

Once you have navigated to the Human Rights section, the document to look for is called 'Core guidance for public authorities: a new era of rights and responsibilities'. Paragraphs 30 and 59 are of particular relevance.

A day of protest is planned - the original June 13 date has been postponed due to the rearranged General Election. The event should now be in the last week of July. Again, please contact Tim Walker if you want to be involved. A public announcement and media briefing will take place as soon as the planning is finalised.


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,Hamish Birchall
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 08:34 AM

CORRECTION:

EFDSS phone number is: 0207-485 2206

Sorry - Hamish


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: JudeL
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 07:18 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 06:18 AM

The law does not require a church to hold a Public Entertainment Licence for music staged as part of a service.

The law does require a church to hold a PEL for staging a public concert (free or otherwise), but will not charge the fee.

So a non profit-making session in a public house, is taxed with a fee.

And a profit making concert in a church, will not.

(Except in London, where they charge the fee.)


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 06:25 AM

I am sorry for the typos that creep in from time to time. I have written so much on this sad subject that I am often on auto pilot with certain words.

The worst that I have noticed, so far is when in a letter to the council, I referred to a "pubic house!"

Unless of course 'you know better?'


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 06:50 PM

I suppose a pubic house would require a Pubic Entertainment Licence - maybe that "two performers only permitted" rule might make some kind of sense in that context...


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Apr 01 - 02:35 AM

I do not understand. Do you mean in order to have a service in the public house?

AH! The penny has dropped.....a PUBIC Entertainment Licence.

I did not even see that on first or second reading. I think that makes my point about me and the typos?


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: GUEST,Bob Lloyd
Date: 17 Apr 01 - 08:12 AM

Hi all,

Oxford still moving at the speed on continental drift! Still not received anything from either Isobel Garner who wrongly assumes that 1793 is a significant date for musicians, or councillor Eric Lucas, chair of the Health and Environment Committee. Still had no copy of the report that was sent to the council. No reply to emails to some of the other councillors either. Get the impression that they really don't want to talk about this issue?

I can understand their embarrassment at having expressed such warm support only to chicken out of doing something really constructive but I would have thought it only reasonable to provide us with some feedback on the reasons for the decisions.

Locally, most musicians just seem to be moving on. The sessions at the Old Ale House has all but folded since the guy who was threatened with prosecution left. He'd had enough of the brewery and the council. The new manageress seems to want to turn the pub into lager/football so most of the local musos have taken the hint and gone elsewhere. We've established a couple of new sessions in almost the only remaining real pubs. Since these are good sessions, it is paradoxically drawing support away from doing something about the council decision - oh fickle folk!

Nevertheless, we still need to keep the pressure up. Thanks Hamish for the info about Anthony Lester - I wonder if our local legal whiz on the council will take some notice of him!

All the best


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Apr 01 - 03:10 AM

I think this subject has a long way to go. This thread is serving a useful purpose but it is getting difficult to load as there are now 100, pretty long posts. Time for a new one, I think.

Sessions under threat in UK Part 2


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Subject: RE: Sessions under threat in UK?
From: ET
Date: 13 Dec 02 - 02:26 AM

I have had an idea.   Why not using he Licensing Bill to create a new music police force. Wearing bright red uniforms and armed with electronic tuners and metronomes they could have the power to issue £100 fixed penalty notices to any musician who hit a bum note, or exceeded 120 beats per minute.

Special attention could be given to piano accordionists, bagpipers and harmonica players with a 50% penalty uplift. Saxophonists would have double penalties.

Controls could be introduced and enforced by this lot as to what is played. Jazz could become a serious criminal offence carrying six months, folk music, if the words are not approved, could result in long terms in psychiatric institutions, and as to anyone playing Bach, well, remember how many children he had as a result.

This could at a stroke, reduce unemployment for musicians, increase government revenue and impose total control.


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