The Live Music Forum


Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Wednesday 8th April 2009 - Musicians Union committed to small gigs exemption

The Musicians Union confirmed today that despite the government's new 'minor variations' amendment, it remains committed to lobbying for a small gigs exemption within the Licensing Act 2003.

Yesterday I put some questions to the MU. Assistant General Secretary Horace Trubridge replied this morning.

HB: Is the MU confident that the revised minor variations amendment, laid before Parliament on 26 March 2009, will allow live music applications in most circumstances?

MU: Yes, we will monitor the success of the Minor Variation process in respect of live music but we believe it is of benefit.

HB: Does the MU see this amendment as a substitute for a small gigs exemption?

MU: No, we are still continuing to argue and put the case for a small gigs exemption. However, we need to overcome some difficulties which continue to concern LACORS and others. [LACORS essentially represents local authority enforcement officers on this issue: ]

HB: Is the MU confident that the government will place a small venues exemption before Parliament soon?

MU: Hopeful, rather than confident right now.

HB: What does the MU think about the DCMS draft guidance on live music applications that accompanies the minor variations amendment: '... the addition of live or recorded music to a licence may impact on the public nuisance objective, but this will depend on many factors. Licensing authorities will need to consider factors such as proximity to residential areas and any noise reduction conditions volunteered by the applicant. It is very much the government's intention that applications to vary a licence for live music should benefit from the minor variations process unless there is likely to be an adverse impact on the licensing objectives.' [DCMS Draft Statutory Guidance, Minor variations process, para 8.48]

MU: This statement was hard fought for and was the best we could achieve under the circumstances. Of course we would like to have seen something that was much more generous for live music but in moving things forward we do have to recognise and meet the very real concerns that other stake holders have regarding this issue.


Hamish Birchall