The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin

Thursday 15th October 2009 - Musicians Union 'happy' with new Form 696

The Musicians Union is now 'happy with Form 696' and is no longer calling for it to be scrapped.

The u-turn follows changes agreed between the union and the Metropolitan Police:

According to the MU website announcement, dated 8th October, the Form now 'clearly states that it is "not primarily intended for a live music event." Promoters using it for a live music event are asked for their reasons' and '... that it should be used for events that "predominantly feature DJs or MCs performing to a recorded backing track".'

Event risk assessment Form 696, which requires a venue to disclose performers' names, addresses and dates of birth, two weeks before a performance, was originally introduced by the Met in 2003. However, it only came to wide public attention during evidence from Feargal Sharkey to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's Licensing Act inquiry in November 2008. The real problem appeared to be the shift from voluntary participation for venues with a history of problems, to potentially enforced compliance through the Licensing Act for almost any gig. Most of the 33 London councils have adopted it as a potential licence condition, in tandem with a definition of qualifying events drafted by the Met that captures almost every conceivable performance.

Questions on the Form about the ethnic make-up of the audience and genres of live music led to strong criticism from the music industry, including threats of judicial review from Feargal Sharkey, negative coverage in the national press and on broadcast media. Under pressure, the Met removed these questions earlier this year.

The Musicians Union u-turn was confirmed at the Music Tank 'Live music: Licensed to Thrill' seminar held in London last Tuesday, 13th October. See this online Billboard coverage, dated 14th October:

And today's Publican article 'Fresh attack on government over live music laws':

It is clear that the MU no longer backs the Number 10 petition calling for Form 696 to be scrapped:

The petition gained over 18,000 signatures since it was launched in December 2008. It will close on 2nd December.

The Met is due to publish the revised Form 696 tomorrow, Friday 16th October. However, use of the Form, which despite the new changes can still apply to live music, will be at the discretion of the local authority and the police. Reliable sources suggest that the Met will issue new guidance to local authorities on the type of event to which the Form will apply, with the emphasis being on larger venues where DJs and MCs perform to recorded music, and where there is, in their view, the potential for serious violent crime. The Met's Clubs & Vice unit will be evaluating the use of the new Form over the next six months.


Hamish Birchall