The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Wednesday 29th November 2006 - Silent Night good - Jingle Bells bad

Some councils are advising carol singers that if they sing secular Christmas songs in public, like Jingle Bells, they will need a temporary licence under the Licensing Act (£21 a time), but if they sing only 'religious' carols, the performance is exempt (under the exemption for entertainment incidental to a 'religious meeting' - Sch.1, para 9(a)).

When the Licensing Act came into force a year ago, most local authorities were too busy processing licence conversions and applications to bother with carol singing.  Now the tide of paperwork has receded,  carol singers in some parts of the country are facing more red tape and extra costs. Under the old legislation, entertainment on public land and performances to raise money for charity were exempt.

Note that collecting money in the street requires a permit from the council under different legislation.

Links to some recent press reports: 'Council enforce licence fee for band playing non-religious Jingle Bells' Daily Mail, 27 October 2006

'Festive Cheer' The Oswestry & Border Counties Advertiser (11 November):

Kirklees, by contrast, seems to have a more liberal approach (Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 10 November): 'Bands are free to hit the streets'

Hamish Birchall