The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Friday 2nd February 2007 - LMF in denial - venue challenges Sharkey


Ged O'Sullivan, proprietor of Ryans Bar in Stoke Newington (contact details below), has issued a challenge to Feargal Sharkey, chair of the Live Music Forum:

'Feargal Sharkey should come and talk to me about the problems I've had getting permission to have live music,' he said. 'I estimate that it will have cost me nearly £20,000 by the time the process is finished, and this does not take into account loss of earnings. And that is just to have the live music that we've always had. Even then I am not sure of the outcome. I know many other licensees who are just not bothering because of the hassle.'

Mr O'Sullivan's entertainment licensing problems, due to the new Act's 'none in a bar rule', are to be included in a BBC TV documentary due for broadcast in the spring. His venue, previously well known for traditional music, used to operate under the exemption for one or two live musicians that was abolished by the new Licensing Act on 24 November 2005. Mr O'Sullivan's challenge to Sharkey came in response to recent LMF comments about the impact of the new law:

'To a great extent MORI's research had confirmed the [Impact of the Act] sub-group's view that, broadly speaking, it was "business as usual" since the new Act was implemented. Nevertheless it was important now to look at where there could be improvement. He [John Smith, General Secretary, Musicians Union] said the sub-group's message to Ministers should be that, although the research shows that the 2003 Act had had no adverse impact on live music provision, there is still room for improvement.

Therefore, efforts should go into ensuring that live music provision is increased over what was previously available.' [Minutes of LMF meeting 08 December 2006, Agenda item 3 - Draft recommendations - i. Impact of Act]  (See 'Related information')

This despite the fact that MORI's research revealed about 40% of bars had lost any automatic entitlement to live music. Under the old regime 100% of venues licensed to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises were automatically entitled to have one or two live musicians. MORI's research also failed to check whether live music licence conditions, such as fitting noise limiters, had been implemented. If such conditions are not implemented, having live music remains illegal.

Ryans Bar, 181 Stoke Newington Church Street, London N16 0UL Tel: 020 7275 7807

Hamish Birchall