The Live Music Forum



Saturday 23rd July 2005

In last Tuesday's Jeremy Vine interview on BBC Radio 2 (19 July 2005), licensing minister James Purnell casually dismissed the emailed claims of one listener, Susan Mallett, concerning, among other things, nursing homes cancelling musicians because they fear this will require a licence.

In fact, Susan Mallett's fears are well founded. The minister either displayed a woeful lack of knowledge about the legislation for which he is now responsible, or he intentionally avoided the difficulty.

For years I have been performing in hospitals for a small fee. The gigs are organised by a number of charities. The hospital makes a contribution to the musicians' fees direct to the charity involved. To the best of my knowledge, none of these performances has ever been caught by entertainment licensing because they were considered private. Most private gigs were exempt under the old regime. The new Act fundamentally changes this, however, extending entertainment licensing across many private performances that have never been caught before (private members clubs, for example).

A couple of weeks ago I had confirmation from my local authority, Camden, that my hospital performances will be licensable under the new regime.

A Temporary Event Notice, which is what Camden recommends, is arguably not going to break the bank at £21. But applications must be submitted on prescribed forms simultaneously to the police and local authority at least 10 working days before the event. Only the police can object on crime prevention grounds.

This does mean, however, that organising such gigs after 24 November would be considered by Camden at least as a potential criminal offence, punishable by fines up to £20,000 and six months in prison.

Hamish Birchall