The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin

Monday 30th November 2009 - Council drops HMV prosecution

Kettering Borough Council has dropped its Licensing Act prosecution of the local HMV store, subject to conditions, according to the Northants Evening Telegraph of 26th November:

The council's actions provoked fierce local and national criticism. But for a small minority, the decision not to prosecute was a betrayal.

Coverage in the online Northants Evening Telegraph generated a heated local debate. One online commentator, identified as 'Lozza123', was outspoken against live music and for the legislation. Here is a selection from their postings:

'The Licensing Act has quite rightly led to a large reduction in live music events. This has been done to protect local residents from the possibility of being disturbed by noise. Is it not obvious that live music attracts people to premises, and that therefore there is an increased potential for crime? If local residents do not want live music in their town they have the right to make representations to the local council until the event is cancelled. It's called democracy.'

'The Government has done a superb job in clamping down on live music and protecting the rights of residents and children. If one local council is allowed to undermine all this, then live music might start to proliferate again and I don't think anyone in their right mind would want that to happen.'

'KBC [Kettering Borough Council] has undermined Govt attempts to tighten up on an activity which as everyone knows poses a real threat to public safety.'

'HMV should have been prosecuted. Promoting the objectives of the Licensing Act should always take priority over any cultural considerations: these are the LACORS guidelines and KBC has ignored them. The whole point of the licensing act is to allow residents to complain in advance about live music.'

'According to the DCMS, there are proven links between live music and crime and the Act is there to protect local residents by reducing the number of music events.'

See: (scroll down for comment postings)

Such virulent anti-music sentiment might suggest that this was a deliberate wind-up. But this is unlikely. The comment about LACORS guidelines is accurate and suggests that the contributor is well informed, perhaps a local councillor who sits on Kettering's Licence Committee. Here is the section from the LACORS guidelines to which they refer:

'Whilst the Government's Guidance accompanying the Licensing Act 2003 indicates some other factors which may influence decisions (e.g. live music / cultural considerations) these will always be subservient to the Licensing Objectives and the Licensing Policy Statement.'
[The role of elected members in relation to Licensing Committee hearings under the Licensing Act 2003', Annex B to Item 6, para 8]


Hamish Birchall