The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Tuesday 12th June 2007 - Local authorities oppose key Live Music Forum recommendations


The Live Music Forum is recommending 'as a matter of some urgency' an amendment to the Licensing Act which would exempt gigs attracting fewer than 100 people.

However, a leaked copy of the latest draft of the LMF report to ministers reveals that this key recommendation, one of 28, is opposed by LACORS (Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services), a body represented on the LMF. In all, LACORS is 'unable to support' five of the recommendations, including a proposed exemption for unamplified live music, and the creation of a mechanism, presumably within the Act, that would allow a member of the public to make representations in support of a live music application. LACORS appears to be the only LMF objector to any of the report's recommendations.

The report also repeats the view that the Act has had a 'broadly neutral impact on the provision of live music', and claims that the 'industry' is positive about standardised licence fees and Temporary Events Notices. However it adds: '... it is also true to say that the Licensing Act has not led to the promised increase in live music...', and '... we view with some scepticism any belief that the Act will in itself lead to a growth in live music.'

This echoes yesterday's surprisingly forthright press release by the Musicians Union which, contrary to the headline, represents  a sharp change of direction, if not a long overdue U-turn:

In their full licensing policy statement, the MU concludes:

'After extensive monitoring, research and internal discussion the Musicians' Union is still of the opinion that the inclusion of regulated entertainment in the Licensing Act is unnecessary, and at the first opportunity it will campaign for its removal from the prevailing licensing legislation.' ['Licensing Act - Statement of Union Policy', 11 June 2007]

In fact, the Union's 'live music kit', first published in 2004 as a guide for prospective gig promoters, claimed that live music application under the new regime was as easy as 1, 2, 3 and that there would be no extra cost for live music. Only last year, MU officials corresponding with trumpeter Henry Lowther over the loss of his gigs at a Regent's Park venue, implied that a 3-performer limit imposed as a licence condition by Westminster City Council was for performers' safety, and therefore beyond criticism. It later emerged that it was an ill-conceived noise condition and nothing to do with safety, which is in any case separately regulated as the MU now appears to accept.

While yesterday's MU welcome press release acknowledges that it may be some years before the Act may be substantially overhauled, it makes a number of recommendations '... which represent a constructive way forward that will enable the Dept for Culture, Media & Sport to deliver what numerous government Ministers have promised - that the Act will be good for live music and encourage its growth.' These include an  exemption for venues up to 100 capacity.

Last but not least, yesterday the petition opposing the music and dance provisions of the Licensing Act, number 1 on the Number 10 website since 01 May, closed with nearly 80,000 signatures:

The question is now whether the government favours LACORS over the LMF, MU and public opinion.

Hamish Birchall