The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin

Friday 5th February 2010 - 46 Minor Variations - approximately

46 Minor Variations. It could be the name of a monumental keyboard work by Beethoven or Bach.

But no. It is rather the best estimate to date of applications by venues to add or amend authorisations for live music using the supposedly cheap, simple, fast-track Minor Variations process introduced by the government on 29 July 2009.

Just to put this into some sort of context, the British Beer and Pub Association claimed last summer that 52 pubs were closing a week: Even if the average were 30 closures per week, that would mean for every Minor Variation application for live music, about 17 potential pub venues are closing. And that assumes all 46 applications were for pubs - but they weren't.

The identities of more than half of the 46 applications are unknown, apparently. But the rest included 11 pubs, 3 restaurants, 2 hotels, one civic building, one 'club', one 'cafe', one public area and one skittle alley.

The latest Minor Variations lament was delivered today by Lord Davies of Oldham in a Written Answer to a question by Lord Clement-Jones (the Q&A has yet to be published on the Parliament website):

Lord Clement-Jones asked: Further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 25 January (WA299), what are the types of venue of the six examples identified by the Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services that have had applications for live music under the Legislative Reform (Minor Variations to Premises Licences and Club Premises Certificates) Order 2009 granted; and which local authorities granted those applications. [HL1600]

Lord Davies replied:

We do not hold the information requested about the six examples referred to in my previous answer.

Since that answer was given on 25 January, however, more local authorities have responded to the request for information made by Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS). LACORS is now aware of approximately forty-six applications to add or amend authorisations for live music, of which three were refused. The figure is approximate because one local authority said it had granted 'a few' relevant applications.

We understand that the survey conducted by LACORS did not request the names of the authorities providing the information, and descriptions of premises type were not given in every case. The descriptions that were given were eleven pubs, three restaurants, two hotels, one civic building, one 'club', one cafe, one public area and one skittle alley.

LACORS' request for information was not intended to discover the details of each minor variations application, but to establish whether or not the new process is being used successfully to vary premises licences and club premises certificates (including the addition or amendment of authorisation for live music).


Hamish Birchall