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PEL stops session in Cheshire

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John J 16 Oct 03 - 04:58 AM
DMcG 16 Oct 03 - 05:14 AM
GUEST,One who was laughed at - they won't do that 16 Oct 03 - 05:19 AM
GUEST,Governments view.... 16 Oct 03 - 05:30 AM
treewind 16 Oct 03 - 05:39 AM
Dave the Gnome 16 Oct 03 - 05:48 AM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Oct 03 - 05:49 AM
Pied Piper 16 Oct 03 - 07:59 AM
pavane 16 Oct 03 - 08:03 AM
Roger the Skiffler 16 Oct 03 - 09:19 AM
The Barden of England 16 Oct 03 - 09:30 AM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Oct 03 - 10:06 AM
early 16 Oct 03 - 10:10 AM
The Barden of England 16 Oct 03 - 10:24 AM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Oct 03 - 10:56 AM
GUEST,Santa 16 Oct 03 - 11:06 AM
The Shambles 16 Oct 03 - 11:12 AM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Oct 03 - 11:16 AM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Oct 03 - 11:17 AM
IanC 16 Oct 03 - 11:28 AM
IanC 16 Oct 03 - 11:29 AM
John J 16 Oct 03 - 11:42 AM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Oct 03 - 02:03 PM
GUEST,Brian Corrigan 16 Oct 03 - 05:06 PM
GUEST,The Fight never stopped we just lost! 16 Oct 03 - 05:30 PM
Richard Bridge 16 Oct 03 - 07:21 PM
Blowzabella 16 Oct 03 - 08:00 PM
The Barden of England 17 Oct 03 - 02:41 AM
John J 17 Oct 03 - 11:26 AM
John Routledge 17 Oct 03 - 01:34 PM
The Shambles 17 Oct 03 - 05:52 PM
GUEST 17 Oct 03 - 06:22 PM
The Shambles 17 Oct 03 - 06:26 PM
GUEST 17 Oct 03 - 06:53 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Oct 03 - 07:16 PM
Pied Piper 18 Oct 03 - 06:42 AM
Blowzabella 18 Oct 03 - 07:03 AM
The Shambles 18 Oct 03 - 07:58 AM
GUEST,John J...notaguest 18 Oct 03 - 08:26 AM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Oct 03 - 09:58 AM
The Shambles 18 Oct 03 - 10:37 AM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Oct 03 - 01:42 PM
The Shambles 18 Oct 03 - 02:32 PM
GUEST,Peter from Essex 18 Oct 03 - 03:52 PM
Richard Bridge 18 Oct 03 - 09:00 PM
GUEST,Been there seen it - got trampled 19 Oct 03 - 05:32 AM
The Shambles 19 Oct 03 - 06:22 AM
Dave Bryant 20 Oct 03 - 05:03 AM
The Barden of England 20 Oct 03 - 06:51 AM
The Barden of England 20 Oct 03 - 08:43 AM
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Subject: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: John J
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 04:58 AM

I received the following email today, 16th October 2003:

---------------------------------------------------------------------

As of last night, there will be no more traditional music sessions at the Bulls Head, Mobberley.

The police visited the pub at 20.45 hrs, and apparently told the staff that the music session there would be illegal in future (from yesterday), as the pub does not hold the requisite licence under the new Bill.

I will freely admit to being one of the doubters that the Bill would be enforced or enforceable. Unfortunately, it is the landlord who would suffer from any action taken at the public house (such as continuing playing there), so one has little action of this nature available at this time.   

I suggest that action is taken in written form etc to anyone with any relevance.. local and national government, Arts council, local papers and broadcasters etc. I will certainly be doing as much as I can to promote the removal of such ridiculous constraints on my freedom to play traditional music at welcoming venues. I will be building a list of suitable addresses and will pass it on at a later date.

This is a direct curtailment of your freedom to indulge in a totally harmless, welcome tradition. It will no doubt affect ALL sessions held in pubs (except those that have stages etc where a licence may be held for greater entertainments but where a session would be inappropriate ), and thus means the end of that method of maintaining the English (and other nationalities!) music tradition, so loved by so many.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

I know I shouldn't be shocked, but I am. More letters to politicians methinks.
John


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: DMcG
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 05:14 AM

Maybe I have misunderstood (!) but I didn't think licences could be applied for under the new Bill yet. I have read somewhere about pubs being upset about having to pay full charges under the old scheme before the new scheme begins in 2004 (?), leading to increased charges where the schemes overlap.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: GUEST,One who was laughed at - they won't do that
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 05:19 AM

errr didn't we try this all last year and the year before (re Two in a bar rule? etc")

How can a session be stopped on a law to come (the act will come into force next year 2004 with a 12 month change over)

The new licence isn't available as yet and courses for licensees are at present being implimented and ongoing.

The music session I think you will find was illigal under current licensing laws (Two in a bar is still in force) and would have been since the 60's

..... Stable doors and all that!


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: GUEST,Governments view....
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 05:30 AM

1. Fuller details of the contents of the Bill are as follows:

· The amalgamation of six existing licensing regimes (alcohol, public entertainment, cinemas, theatres, late night refreshment house and night café).

· A single integrated scheme for licensing premises which sell alcohol, provide entertainment to the public or provide refreshment late at night, sweeping away considerable red tape and cost.

· Premises licence to incorporate licensing operating conditions (e.g. hours, fire exits, capacity) addressing the key areas of crime and disorder, public safety, public nuisance and protection of children from harm. They will be set locally, if necessary, on the basis of the balance of, among other things, operators' requirements, residents' views and police and fire authority assessments in the overall public interest.

· A new system of personal licences which allow holders to sell or supply alcohol for consumption on or off any premises in respect of which there is a premises licence. (Those providing regulated entertainment or refreshment at night which do not involve alcohol, would require a premises licence only).

· Personal licences to be issued for 10 years to those aged 18 and over following a test of knowledge of licensing law and social responsibilities and subject to police scrutiny if relevant or foreign offences have been committed, with provision for suspension or withdrawal of licences within that period: abolition of vague "fit and proper person" test in respect of licences to sell alcohol.

· Personal and premises licences to be issued by licensing authorities: generally local authorities.

· Premises licences to be supported by flexible range of remedies following review (including temporary reduction in opening hours) instead of present single all or nothing sanction available to licensing justices of loss of licence if conditions have been breached.

· An avenue of appeal for parties (including the police and local residents following representations) to the magistrates' courts.

· To minimise public disorder resulting from fixed closing times, the opportunity for flexible opening hours, subject to consideration of representations made by local residents and other interested parties and responsible authorities (and therefore existing permitted hours to be abolished).

· Children under 16 to be allowed access to pubs only if accompanied by an adult. Licensing authorities to have the ability, if necessary, to restrict or deny access for children to unsuitable licensed venues following representations.

· The legal age for drinking alcohol on licensed premises and for buying it there, whether as off-sales or on-sales, both to remain at 18. An exception will allow 16 and 17 year olds accompanied by an adult to consume alcohol of less than spirits strength with a table meal on licensed premises.

· New requirements in the wake of the Thames Safety Inquiry for licensing the sale of alcohol, and the provision of entertainment and late night refreshment on boats travelling within England and Wales.

· New arrangements for non-profit making qualifying clubs supplying alcohol to their members which preserve their special status.
top

· Incidental live and recorded music to be exempted from licensing for the first time.

· Unamplified, live music in small venues to be treated exceptionally to ensure traditional and amateur folk music thrives.


· For the first time, the provision of entertainment in a school and sixth form college by the school or college will be exempted from the licensing fee associated with that provision.

· The current exemption from the payment of fees for entertainment in every village hall, church hall and community building outside Greater London, and extending it throughout the whole of England and Wales.

· For the first time, it will cost nothing extra to get permission to put on live music in pubs – given that pubs have to get a licence anyway for the sale of alcohol, applying for permission at the same time for provision of live music becomes effectively free.

· Power for the Secretary of State to declare special hours up to 24 for all premises on special international, national and local occasions, like World Cups, Royal Jubilees and Commonwealth Games.

· Abolition of a range of ancient and special privileges regarding sales of alcohol held by the Crown, certain theatres, the Vintners of the City of London, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.

· Repeal of the Welsh Sunday Opening Polls which can result in the sale of alcohol on Sundays being prohibited in Welsh Districts.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: treewind
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 05:39 AM

The letters to politicians should all have been written long ago when the bill was in Parliament! We were all warned...

Except... as has been said, this is under the old system. Your MP will simply tell you that the new law will improve things when it comes into force.

As soon as it does, we all need to watch very carefully to see how it works in practice. If there are then problems with music sessions in pubs, that's the time to start getting really stroppy. It'll be a hard fight against administrative buck-passing because the government has made the rules but it's the local authorites that will be interpreting them.

(I go to a regular session that was stopped for a few weeks because of the pub being unlicensed. They've got their (old-style) PEL now and the session continues. I don't know how much the licence cost.)

Anahata


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 05:48 AM

The other thing is I thought that the new new legislation was under local authority and civil jurisdiction. If this is the case the police would not get involved unless the local authority applied to the courts for an injunction would they?

Can anyone enlighten me?

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 05:49 AM

It does seem that this action is being taken under the old law, and that the session has probably always been illegal. The majority of local authorities were content to leave well alone in the past, but more will certainly now feel obliged strictly to enforce the law in the run-up to implementation of the new one. Many musicians and licencees will be confused about this, and blame the new regulations; but what is probably more immediately to blame here for any change of attitude is the publicity consequent upon our (necessary) protests over the new law. Authorities will feel that they must be seen to be doing their job as required by law, and now that the profile of such things has been raised, sessions and the like are more likely to be targetted than they have been in the past. The fact that the old law is stupid and unnecessary is not the issue now, and it will not become apparent exactly how stupid and unnecessary the new law is for some time yet.

Having said all that, it is important that all instances of this kind be precisely and accurately documented. If a significant change in enforcement patterns emerges over the run-up period to implementation of the new law, it may add weight to argument when the MU and EFDSS talk to the DCMS about review. Evidence must be properly documented, though: purely anecdotal reports will carry little weight.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: Pied Piper
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 07:59 AM

Under the present legislation the PEL fees are in this area very reasonable, a couple of hundred pounds.
Just think about the amount of money you and other people have put over the bar over the many years that this pub has been frequented by folkies, not to mention the punters it pulled in.
Did the licensee say he would be applying for a PEL?
If not then he is pissing on his and more importantly your chips.
If he does not cooperate approach a Pub with, or prepared, to get a PEL and move your session there.
If you get this sorted let us all know so we can organise a great opening night.
Don't just role over and take it.

PP


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: pavane
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 08:03 AM

I did several faxes to my MP, but he just kept forwarding them to Kim Howells, who sent back the standard reply.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 09:19 AM

Dave the gnome had the same thought as me, surely this is a civil matter for the licencing authority (local council) NOT criminal (police). Perhaps they are like the coppers in tv's Early Doors & haven't been bribed with free booze!

RtS


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: The Barden of England
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 09:30 AM

Remember to point out to the landlord that under the new act if he is authorised for less than 200 people, and the music is solely acoustic and between the hours of 08:00 and 24:00, then the PEL will cost him/her nothing - zip - zilch - nada. Also they will need a PEL anyway for things like Karaoke, and would you believe Darts competitions (and I do mean competitions in a local league for example). Drawback - the new regime probably won't happen until Mar 2005, so we are stuck with the old law as has been since the 1960's - two in a bar only - so a session of 3 or more has always needed a PEL I'm afraid. It's unusual that the Police would come in mind, as I always thought it was the job of Council Officials, as it's the Council who issues the PEL's.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 10:06 AM

"...the new regime probably won't happen until Mar 2005..."

I'd been under the impression it was due for the start of the new year, and that's the impression the landlord at at least one pub has been working under, and he's been planning on that basis to jump through the hoops, so as to be able to have an increased number of music nights without having to look lover his shoulder.
The musicians Union page says "about 18 months".   Has anybody got any clear information about this.

These bastards do faff around don't they?


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: early
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 10:10 AM

as a club organiser and event organiser I would like to know if anyone has found a legal loophole yet such as all the people attending a concert/folk club being members of the club or some other such ruse which will circumvent the new regime? thoughts please! I think this may get around the events open to the general public part of the law


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: The Barden of England
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 10:24 AM

early - I'm pretty sure that clubs will be under the umbrella of the New Act.

McGrath - Because the Guidance is yet to appear, the Local Authorities have not been able to do their part in compliance with the guidance. They have about 6 months to do that, then the 1st. date is anounced - this is when the gradual change between the Old and the new will be taking place, except the old law will still be in place. It would seem that this has now gone back to around about next May/June. The 2nd. date is when the new law takes the place of the old one, and at the moment it would seem to be about March 2005 - but it'll probably slip from there. What a dog's breakfast isn't it.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 10:56 AM

In answer to Early, the old exemption for members-only events will no longer hold under the new law. Instead of groping about looking for "loopholes" (and, believe me, that one was thought of long ago), you'd do better to put your efforts into persuading the licensees you deal with to apply for a music licence under the new regime. If ministerial assurances turn out to be true, this should not involve extra expense. If unreasonable conditions are applied (local authorities have been told that they should not do this), these can be challenged; though the mechanisms for doing so are not yet clear. See also John Barden's earler comments.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: GUEST,Santa
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 11:06 AM

What about performances in unlicensed premises?

Bring your own bottle?

Home concerts? - as discussed elsewhere.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: The Shambles
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 11:12 AM

It would appear that the action must be taking under the current legislation - but it would be very useful if someone locally could take the time and trouble to establish all the details of this case.

Drawback - the new regime probably won't happen until Mar 2005, so we are stuck with the old law as has been since the 1960's - two in a bar only - so a session of 3 or more has always needed a PEL I'm afraid.

Sorry to keep on about this but this view is simply wrong and it is vitally important that we do not accept that pub sessions currently require a PEL - no matter how many participants.

When local authorities use this law against unpaid pub sessions - and count participating customers as performers in public entertainment - there is no legal support for this view.

However there is case law [Brearley -v- Morley 1899] where customers were providing their own unpaid entertainment on a regular basis and the licensee was found not guilty on appeal of providing unlicensened entertainment.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 11:16 AM

All those questions have been gone over before: see the interminable previous discussions of the legislation here. If you want to be able to find substantive information without getting too severe a headache, though, see the MU site:

http://www.musiciansunion.org.uk/articles/latest_news.shtml

Also note the EFDSS page:

http://www.efdss.org/licensing/index.htm


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 11:17 AM

Santa's questions, that is.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: IanC
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 11:28 AM

How accurate is the original (apparently anonymous) e-mail? The new law is not yet established and sessions as such are essentially exempt. Under the new law, there is no criminal involvement and so the police cannot be involved unless the pub is disobeying a court injunction previously issued.

Are there any facts here? Or is this just a scare story? Or is it something else entirely?

There's something fishy somewhere.

:-(


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: IanC
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 11:29 AM

Sorry, I meant the OLD law (above) when talking about criminal involvement.

:-(


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: John J
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 11:42 AM

Hi IanC,

The source isn't anonymous, but a well known local musician I have known for many years who attends this particular session.

I have had reports from other musicians telling me the same story independently.

Worrying, isn't it?

JJ


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 02:03 PM

To sum it up:

At present the old law is still the only law that has any relevance - and that old law is a complete mess, which is the one thing everyone agrees about. It is clear that there is an exemption under which where one or two musicians are performing together in a pub, no entertainment licence is required. But outside that exemption it is very unclear indeed what exactly requires a licence and what (if anything does not.) Local authorities interpret the law in various ways, and it very rarely gets to court, because quite understandiobly, licensees back off when threatened.

Under the new law, when it eventually becomes operative, the situation is clearer. No kind of public musical or dance performance will be legal anywhere in England or Wales unless there is a licence covering it (with the sole exception of places of worship and of any Royal Palaces). We have been assured that getting licences will be very easy and cheap, and that certain types of music-making may not be counted as performances - but until the Guidelines have been produced we are very much in the dark about what all this will really mean, and whether the assurances actually meant anything.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: GUEST,Brian Corrigan
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 05:06 PM

The Act is Law. I was there and the landlady was much bothered.The local Licensing Authority are being helpful and I will advise progress


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: GUEST,The Fight never stopped we just lost!
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 05:30 PM

Brian - Either you or the PC's were taking the PC!

The act has passed royal consent - It is NOT repeat NOT been implemented as yet.

As said before the Police WOULD NOT take action at this point in the proceedings - unless they have been turned out for a complaint of noise (for which they have the right to close the pub for 48hrs)

Contact your local town hall and speak to the licensing enforcement officer ask him what their proposed enforcement rules will be in regards of live acoustic music when they implement the new act.

1) Incidental live and recorded music to be exempted from licensing for the first time.

2)Unamplified, live music in small venues to be treated exceptionally to ensure traditional and amateur folk music thrives


If he/she states they intend to prosecute either of the above contact your MP as they are being unreasonable.

NB Morris Dancing is exempt from the act as long as the music accompanying it is not amplified - sorry Fiddle 'n' Feet and the like.


You are breaking the law at the moment having a sing around in a pub (without a license) if more than 2 people perform (with successful prosecutions for more than two people throughout the event and including members of the audience - also (sorry Ken!!! it is true) singing "Happy Birthday to you"


I would also suggest the licensee of the pub contact the local Police Station and ask them why the action was taken and also the The Society of Licensed Victuallers, and ask to go on the course for the new Licensing Laws ASAP


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 07:21 PM

Hello Brian is that you (ex unsound, if it is you will know what I mean)?

The new Act is not yet in force. Honest. The first "appointed day" has not yet occurred.

Comment: The gov't propaganda is not true - for example recorded music will only be exempt if it is "incidental" - and we don't know what that means yet.

Others, read my *** lips. The guidance cannot as a matter of law change the meaning of the Act. It can only guide the LAs as to how they impliment it.

As to the present law, the issue is indeed whether those playing for their own amusement are "performers". An argument may be made on the basis of Brearley -v- Morley that they are not. But it is an interesting point, and who's going to go to the House of Lords on it?


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: Blowzabella
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 08:00 PM

I know it goes against the grain a bit, but I often find that, with stuff like this, it really can be better to speak with the local authority before acting and get the officer on your side from the outset.

Like a lot of things, its a lot easier to work with someone than against them

It won't apply to a session which is already in operation, but if you are looking to set something up, you might well find that the officer will be as helpful as he can be to facilitate what you want to do. Let's face it - the option is to have them 'find out' about it at a later date, when they feel obliged to 'do something'. If you 'engage' them from the beginning and 'seek their advice and assistance' from the outset, you might be surprised.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: The Barden of England
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 02:41 AM

Brian Corrigan - Just a simple question is all that's needed to be asked. If the Act is law, then why are we not allowed 24hr. drinking? That is also part of the new act. I still can't get my head round the Police being there as I don't think this was a criminal matter. The new Bill has become an act, but is not yet implemented.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: John J
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 11:26 AM

It seems to me that there is still a huge amount of confusion regarding this law.

John


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: John Routledge
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 01:34 PM

John - there certainly is amongst posters to this thread.:0)


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 05:52 PM

You are breaking the law at the moment having a sing around in a pub (without a license) if more than 2 people perform (with successful prosecutions for more than two people throughout the event and including members of the audience - also (sorry Ken!!! it is true) singing "Happy Birthday to you"

As Richard say's it is the courts that will decide (under the current law) if any number unpaid customers making their own music is illegal or not. As this question has not been to court - at least since 1899 - no one (including council officers and the police) can say for sure that the licensee is breaking the current licensing law by holding a session.

What has been recently tested in the courts - in the form of the exemption requiring the same two performers all evening is a rather different issue. I don't think that many of us would argue that kareoke is a conventional entertainment organised for their customers by the licensee. Customers may take part in this and may (questionably) be considered as performers when they do (although this issue was not raised). However the issue of whether unpaid customers making their own music - with little or no organisation on the part of the licensee - count as performers in a public entertainment, has not been tested.

Until this issue has been tested - all that one can go on is what the courts have decided in the past - although our enforcers tend to ignore this. They can safely do this until they are challenged....

Is there any chance that the licensee of the Bull's Head will be prepared challenge the local enforcer's interpretation of the current legislation?


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 06:22 PM

A license is required for karaoke on the grounds of mixing recorded and live music which automatically requires a license -

"combining even one live musician with any form of 'recorded sound' is illegal in such premises without a PEL. Even MIDI technology, almost universal in modern electronic instruments, is counted as 'recorded sound' by some local authorities."

Fact NOT fiction
"Some years ago, Mr Powell decided that a PEL might be a good idea after Hackney successfully prosecuted him for allowing 7 members of the public to sing Happy Birthday. This was more than the maximum two 'performers' allowed without a PEL. The maximum penalty is a £20,000 fine and six months in prison. Mr Powell got off lightly - he was fined £500 and ordered to pay over £1500 costs.

The offending occasion was indeed the birthday of one member of a (legal) singer/guitarist duo then performing at The Globe. Friends had come along to celebrate. Sadly a Council Enforcement Officer was in the audience."

However, what is the point in going over the same stuff as can be found in loads of previous post - whilst there was some (however little) hope of changing the bill - it's passed and nowt will change it now - let's see what happens when it arrives and untill then get your landlord to get a license and go on the relivant courses - so he/she knows what's what.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 06:26 PM

I don't know the details of the visit - but sadly the damage would appear to be terminal - just the officials spouting the incorrect information seemingly enough to frighten the licensee off and prevent yet another perfectly safe and beneficial musical activity.

I can't help but wonder if the enforcers visiting and seeing customers having a sing-song gathered around a piano would have considered all these people to be performers in a public entertainment? I suspect that under these circumstances they may at least have been prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt.

However, if they should see people playing instruments - they do not seem to be able to grasp the concept of customers bringing these in order to play them or their right to express themselves musically. When they are informed of the facts by licensees and customers - this information is dismissed and only appears to convince the official brain that something unlawful must be going on.

It is very sad that so many people tend to suffer simply from this ignorance and lack of imagination and that we just seem to accept it when it appears.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 06:53 PM

There would have had to have been a complaint for a uniformed police officer to have attended and obtained permission (from his direct line supervisor) to enter licensed premises.

Why did the licensee not contact the local police station and ask why the visit -

-he/she appears to be very unprofessional and at best somewhat naive


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 07:16 PM

I'm not sure Blowzebella is right at this point anyway - "if you are looking to set something up, you might well find that the officer will be as helpful as he can be to facilitate what you want to do. Let's face it - the option is to have them 'find out' about it at a later date, when they feel obliged to 'do something'. If you 'engage' them from the beginning and 'seek their advice and assistance' from the outset, you might be surprised."

There might be circumstances where this would the case. However frequently "don't ask , don't tell" is more the way it goes. If formally approached in advance, the advice from a council officer (howevever sympathetic) will have to be strictly according to the law, as interpreted by that local council - but in practice, if it's not brought to their attention. they might well be happy to turn a blnd eye. Of course it may be brought to their attention - we lost a pleasant session in Waltham Abbey when a rival publican blew the whistle. But by then we'd had a few good evenings.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: Pied Piper
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 06:42 AM

Remember this is a revenue raising scam for the local authority, telling them about a Session is a seriously naive mistake.

PP


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: Blowzabella
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 07:03 AM

Pied Piper - one thing I'm not is naive, I promise you - I was speaking, as you can see from my post, from my personal experience. Your own experience might be different, and that of others, but that is how I have found the situation, nontheless.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 07:58 AM

However, what is the point in going over the same stuff as can be found in loads of previous post - whilst there was some (however little) hope of changing the bill - it's passed and nowt will change it now - let's see what happens when it arrives and untill then get your landlord to get a license and go on the relivant courses - so he/she knows what's what.

The point is that there is little use in us relying on the new or indeed the current licensing law if those enpowered to enforce it, do not understand the law, chose to ignore the law or make it up to suit their own purposes. Is it right or helpful for us to just shrug our shouders and tolerate it when they do this.

Part of the fight with the new legislation was to try to get our enforcers to follow the Government's fine words and enable musical activity - rather than seeing it as their role to always prevent it. That is not going to happen if we just sit back and continue to pemit this type of questionably legal enforcement to happen or if we only expect the licensees to do our fighting for us.

Officers using the interpretation that anyone making any music in a pub is a performer in a public entertainment has about as much legal support in the courts as the same authority claiming that a bicycle required the same payment for road-tax as a motor-bke - or that the law required the bicycle rider had to wear a crash helmet.

Bicycles are not moter-bikes and customers taking part in informal and unpaid pub sessions (according to the little case-law there is) are very cleary not the conventional public entertainment that the licensing law is designed to control.

Sadly I am pretty sure that the officers concerned in this visit - if challenged at this point will claim that it is not their wish to prevent the session. I am equally sure that their superiors will support them in this claim - even though as Kevin pointed out - no one is really sure exactly what the true position is.

The question that needs to be asked is why do our enforcers still chose to prevent these activities when the uncertainty of the licensing law means that they could just as easily permit them? The answer is probably that we allow them to.

However whatever the position under current licensing law - there is no question in my mind that this kind of enforcement action is not supported by our right to freedom of expression under Human Rights legislation. However, no one in authority appears to recognise this legislation - or I fear is ever likely to recognise it unless a serious legal challenge is mounted on these grounds to force the issue in the courts.

As a footnote - I was interested to read recently that the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Jean Corston was also leader of the parlimentary Labour Party. It was probably no wonder then that this Committee could not find a quorum to enable it to meet before the Lord's final vote on the Licensing Bill. I wonder how hard they tried?


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: GUEST,John J...notaguest
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 08:26 AM

I've just done a search on Hansard, it appears that a musician friend of mine faxed his (also my) MP regarding this matter. Mr Graham Brady who is MP for Sale West & Altrincham, and very active locally, raised the question in the House of Commons less than 24 hours after the event. I have written to Graham Brady a couple of times regarding the P.E.L. situation, so he is well aware of our concerns. His responses have always been coscientous, he clearly takes the views of his constituents seriously (even if they don't for him!).

--------------------------------------------------------------------

From Hansard:

Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West): My constituent Mr. Peach faxed me this morning to say that police last night apparently visited the Bull's Head pub in Mobberley. They were not looking for drugs or guns, but wanted to inform patrons that it would in future be illegal to hold traditional music sessions there. Can we have an urgent debate or statement next week on the implementation of the new music licensing regime?

16 Oct 2003 : Column 269

When the new licensing legislation was being considered, Ministers assured the House that there would not be absurd and excessive regulation in its implementation, but there are worrying signs that the absurdities that we feared are taking place. If that is happening, we need a debate to stop it going any further.

Mr. Hain: The Government are not in favour of absurd regulations on this matter. The hon. Gentleman knows that the issue was carefully and thoroughly debated in Standing Committee. However, I shall certainly refer the episode that he describes to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. I have no reason to doubt that the facts are as he described, so it is obviously a matter for concern.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

This could be a test case without having to go to court.

John J


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 09:58 AM

That is a clear example of the truth that you should never give up on the possibility being able to work through the system. But at the same time, never rely on it, or see that as a reason to refrain from trying to get things done in other ways.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 10:37 AM

This could be a test case without having to go to court.

Getting these actions mentioned in Hansard and receiving encouraging comments from ministers has not changed anything in the past. I hope that this one will change things but it is a little early to celebrate yet.

The test is not whether the enforcement it is considered by the DCMS to be a matter of concern but whether the next scheduled Bull's Head session takes place..............Is it going to?


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 01:42 PM

Trying to go ahead regardless in the pub runs up against the problem that it'd not the musicians who'd get leant on, it'd be the publican.

Why not move it to the Council chamber next time it meets? It would be a good way of getting a bit of media attention, both local and, if you play it right, national and even wider. And whatever happens it could be a gas.

I'm sure you could drum up a few extra musicians to turn up - the North West is swarming with them.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 02:32 PM

I will post the following here - this was posted by Steve Mansfield on uk.music.folk as it has a bit more important information re the local licensing authority, which seems to indicate they have had a re-think. Their views and actions being far more important than the Government's words. It would appear from this that the session may yet continue.

Amazingly enough things might not be as bad as we first thought ....

Hansard, Thursday 16th October:

Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West): My constituent Mr. Peach faxed me this morning to say that police last night apparently visited the Bull's Head pub in Mobberley. They were not looking for drugs or guns, but wanted to inform patrons that it would in future be illegal to hold traditional music sessions there.

Can we have an urgent debate or statement next week on the implementation of the new music licensing regime?

When the new licensing legislation was being considered, Ministers
assured the House that there would not be absurd and excessive
regulation in its implementation, but there are worrying signs that the absurdities that we feared are taking place. If that is happening, we need a debate to stop it going any further.

Mr. Hain: The Government are (sic) not in favour of absurd regulations on this matter. The hon. Gentleman knows that the issue was carefully and thoroughly debated in Standing Committee. However, I shall certainly refer the episode that he describes to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. I have no reason to doubt that the facts are as he described, so it is obviously a matter for concern.


So far, so much of the usual 'there there, nothing to worry about' stuff - but the Licensing Department of Cheshire Constabulary are also unsure why the 'raid' happened, are stating that there is no intention to halt the Bulls Head session 'under present or future legislation', and our contact in that Department is going to write to the Bulls Head stating as much to set the landlady's mind at rest. She is fundamentally keen to see the sessions continue, which is a great help, but not obviously not at the expense of her livelihood!

So sense may be prevailing, in our case at least.

But if the Cheshire Constabulary are prepared to take this attitude
surely this can be used as an argument and precedent by other sessions if/when the need arises.

I won't bombard umf with every letter and detail, but will report back when anything significant happens.

Steve Mansfield


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 03:52 PM

somebody above mentioned the fairly low cost of a PEL under the current law (outside London anyway). The basic cost of the license is seldom an issue. The problems come with the conditions that are imposed. Typically replacement of all upholstary and curtains with fire retardent material, rewiring (for the acoustic session's massive PA), double glazing (because of that PA) and possibly additional fire exits.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 09:00 PM

Peter - others will say that those conditions are relaxed for unamplified music, but you are perfectly right that they have to be observed before the licence is granted in the first place.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: GUEST,Been there seen it - got trampled
Date: 19 Oct 03 - 05:32 AM

"Typically replacement of all upholstery and curtains with fire retardant material, rewiring (for the acoustic session's massive PA), double glazing (because of that PA) and possibly additional fire exits."

I personally think some the above (plus other requirements not mentioned) should be enforced whether a licence is requested or not, Health and Safety of the customers should come well before if they want to sing or not.

This to me has bee one of the biggest anomalies re the new "act" - an act that is to protect customers etc..... but I can get squashed and trodden to bits listening to a comedian or televised football match but try and listen to a folk singer and all the safety rule come into practise - does this really mean they like audiences listening to music and want them to survive???? "Unamplified, live music in small venues to be treated exceptionally to ensure traditional and amateur folk music thrives" - so that's how they're going to do it


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Oct 03 - 06:22 AM

But if the Cheshire Constabulary are prepared to take this attitude surely this can be used as an argument and precedent by other sessions if/when the need arises.

It remains to be seen if/how the next scheduled Bull's Head session is now enabled by the local licensing authority - though if the reported words are correct it does look as if some accomodation may be reached in this case. This may indeed be helpful to other sessions and locally this action indeed may be timely.

Given the Government's words and the legal uncertainty over sessions under the current legislation - the very least I think that we should be asking for and expecting at this point - is a end now to enforcement actions against all existing sessions, that affected sessions be re-instated (if possible) and that new sessions can be established in pubs without PELs until the new legislation is in force - a moratorium?

I have just recently finally suceeded in getting the (new) Chairman of Weymouth and Portland Borough's Licensing Committee to accept that there is not legal support for the officers interpretation. You may think that this would be enough to re-instate the New Star session that the officers were responsible for preventing by issuing a letter to the licensee last December. But, it would appear that the officers of the council make the policy here.

He is due to contact me tomorrow with details of a meeting he is setting-up between us and the (legal) officers to discuss re-instating this session. I have informed him of the Bull's Head action - and this latest fuss should certainly help. For the officers were always saying that no other authority had a different interpretation and had to prevent sessions in pubs without PELs.

I would ideally like to reach a situation where the licensing authorities finally accepted that sessions were not public entertainment requiring PELs. However, at this stage of the game - I would settle for any temporary compromise - for the duration of the current legislation - that enables sessions and that 'calls off the dogs'.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 05:03 AM

What really is the "Small Events" clause going to give us in practice ? I know that John Barden thinks that it will mean that if a publican is only going to only have entertainment which falls within this category, the LA can not impose any conditions upon granting a licence (free - if he ticks the box when renewing his license). My reading of the clause was that the LA can still require modifications to the premises etc, and that only any other restrictions actually relating to the entertainment itself (frequency, time etc) would not apply to these sessions.

I also do not see how John's view can be correct unless the new form has something on it allowing publicans to apply for a "Small Events" PEL only - and Howells et al were adamant that there would not be a two-tier licensing arrangement.

Kevin was suggesting that the new act might not actually be implemented until 2005 - what would happen to all the premises whose current licenses expire this March - would they have to extend the magistrates system ?

I still think that many LAs might be trying to grab a bit of cash before any "capping" of fees occurs - especially as we were told that if a landlord ticked the box on his application form, he would would get it free.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: The Barden of England
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 06:51 AM

Dave -
I also do not see how John's view can be correct unless the new form has something on it allowing publicans to apply for a "Small Events" PEL only - and Howells et al were adamant that there would not be a two-tier licensing arrangement.

I think Richard is pushing this point too. It certainly seems to say that you must have a licence. What is the point of the "Small Events" part of the legislation if on the one hand it tells the Licensing Authority that it cannot put conditions against the PEL in the case of acoustic music, and it is restricted to 2 conditions where it is amplified music, but on the other hand it's saying that you must have a license first and that restrictions could apply to that? I'd be interested in someones view of that Catch 22 situation.


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Subject: RE: PEL stops session in Cheshire
From: The Barden of England
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 08:43 AM

Dave -
I've had a re-think. I think the license referred to is the premises licence. It is this that conditions are put against in the first instance. So when the licensee puts in his operating plan it is this then that will affect the PEL, and as I've stated before in the case of a "small premises" (under 200 people) then acoustic music between 08:00 and 24:00 hrs can have no conditions placed on the 'Premises Licence', and in the case of amplified music (and one assumes acoustic music between 00:00hrs and 08:00 hrs) then only (a) the prevention of crime and disorder, and (b) public safety can be taken into account (although those 2 of course cover a wide variety if 'sins'). I'm hoping that my reading of this is now right, but once again I'm no lawyer and hope that the ones who know will clarify the situation for us.


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