The Live Music Forum


Thursday 15th December 2005 - Licensing:More Gigs Under Threat and Some Good News

In Chiswick, London, a well-known 'two in a bar' gig at the Bulls Head - not to be confused with the Bulls Head in Barnes - was recently stopped because of a noise complaint by one neighbour (using noise legislation, not licensing).

However, the gig organiser, saxophonist Eric Gilchrist, managed to find a new venue nearby, the Grove Park Tavern. Naturally he hoped that under the new regime the venue would be able to host bands. No such luck. It has been granted a licence for live music... by no more than two musicians.

My thanks to Eric for this update.

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'It looks as though the Samba fraternity is finally waking up to the consequences of the bill,' writes licensing campaigner Phil Little. The problem is the Act's definition of premises as 'any place', which of course includes streets and public parks, and is why the government has urged local authorities to licence some of these spaces for entertainment. A sambistas' discussion forum on the web includes this comment dated 13 December from Dorian Kelly, director of the Colchester Festival and Great Samba Ramble:

'...In Colchester we have managed to persuade the local council to licence the town centre areas as a whole as well as the park to prevent this problem in the future but many councils are not doing this. Start agitating now locally for them to do this, to prevent the possibility of a large fine and jail sentence.'

[see Forums on ]

Thanks to Phil for this lead. (I had some problems with this website - if you can't get to the discussion thread let me know and I will send a text copy. HB).

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Seasonal good news? In Oughtibridge, near Sheffield, one pub, the Travellers Rest, has apparently been allowed by the local authority to host pre-planned carol singing, accompanied by a pianist using the pub piano, all without a licence for live music. The event went ahead after the new law came into force. Indeed, at this time of year there is a tradition in the area of annual pub carol singing in which all customers participate. The performances attract visitors from across the UK and beyond. It would seem that the 'incidental music' exemption would not apply in these circumstances. How did Sheffield City Council do it? So far they have not explained, but I have written to their licensing manager Steve Lonnia to find out. If the council has found a loophole which allows pre-planned music that is not incidental, all venues should benefit.

by Hamish Birchall