The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Wednesday 13th June 2007 - Lib Dems call on government to repeal live music law


The following press release was issued by the Liberal Democrats yesterday, Tuesday 12 June 2007:


The Government must re-examine licensing regulations in the light of public concern over the damage current laws are having on live music.

Commenting after an e-petition on the Downing Street website on the impact of the 2003 Licensing Act closed with over 79,000 signatures, Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, Don Foster MP said:

'The sheer scale of this petition shows the depth of public concern on the impact that these regulations are having on live music.

'Live music in a pub is an essential part of Britain's musical heritage so why something as innocuous as providing a piano in a bar should be deemed an offence is beyond me.

'The Government claims that there has been no effect on the industry but their own research shows that 40% of smaller venues have lost any automatic entitlement to provide live music.

'The Government must take note of people's concerns and seek to help the industry grow by repealing such bureaucratic legislation.'


Notes to Editors

1. Downing Street petition text:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to recognise that music and dance should not be restricted by burdensome licensing regulations. The recently introduced changes in licensing law have produced an environment where music and dance, activities which should be valued and promoted in a civilised society, are instead damaged by inappropriate regulation. We call on the Prime Minister to recognise this situation and take steps to correct it.

2. DCMS and the Association of Live Music Forum commissioned MORI research into the impact of the Act revealed that, following the Licensing Act, 40% of smaller venues lost any automatic entitlement to provide live music.  In order to do so these venues are now forced to apply for a Temporary Event Notice (TEN), costing £21, up to a maximum of 12 per year for each venue:

6.1.1. The proportion of establishments which now have a Premises Licence permitting them to stage live music is not significantly larger than the proportions of establishments which previously put on live music events, either with a PEL or through some other form of authorisation. Very few establishments that wanted a new licence were denied it, and many who were previously limited to 2-in-a-bar now have the ability to stage music with 2 or more musicians27

6.1.2. This contrasts, of course, with the fact that 40% of establishments now have no automatic means of putting on live music (i.e. they would have to give a TEN). Whether this is problematic is debatable: these establishments have tended to indicate a lack of suitability or local demand for putting on live music - so we might expect the negative impact from this to be minimal.'

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"Licensing Act 2003: The experience of smaller venues in applying for live music authorisation"
December 2006

3. The provision of a piano in a bar could be deemed an offence under the terms of the Licensing Act 2003 as a provision of 'unlicensed entertainment facilities'.

4. Liberal Democrat 2005 Manifesto pledge:

We believe artists must have the freedom to create, not just teach others, and that the arts must be free from excessive Government interference. The Liberal Democrats would: allow live music to flourish by reducing the currently overly bureaucratic requirements for licences for small venues while strengthening local authorities' powers over noise, disturbance and safety to prevent public nuisance.

5. The definition of 'incidental music', which continues to be exempt under the Licensing Act, is also unclear.  Some councils require, for example, hospitals to be licensed to provide live music to entertain their patients, whilst hospitals in a neighbouring borough are free to do so without a license.

Contact: Sean Kemp, Print Media Manager, Liberal Democrats
Office: 020 7227 1240
Mobile: 07960 012 356 ... Out of Hours: 020 7340 4949

Hamish Birchall