The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin

Wednesday 7th April 2010 - Minister resists 200-capacity gig exemption

Licensing minister Gerry Sutcliffe is resisting calls for the small gigs exemption to be increased from 100- to 200-capacity events, writes John Harrington in the Morning Advertiser of 6th April:

The report quotes 'a Labour party spokesman at the DCMS' - probably Lenny Shallcross, special adviser to Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw (Facebook: ):

"There's nothing so far in the responses to the consultation [which closed on 26 March] that have changed Gerry's mind. If Labour is re-elected they will attempt to make the exemptions. Gerry's position remains unchanged on this."

However, Gerry's position is premature. DCMS has not published the 800-plus consultation responses. Only a few civil servants know the breakdown of those for and against the proposed exemption, and the proportion supporting a larger figure. Sutcliffe and the special adviser are unlikely to have read more than a few of the responses.

On 22 October 2009, Sutcliffe promised to consider a larger exemption during the Westminster Hall licensing debate, when he announced the small gigs exemption consultation. Lib Dem Richard Younger-Ross said: '...If the consultation on a capacity of 100 shows a desire for it to be increased to 200, I hope that the Government will support it.'

Sutcliffe replied: 'I am grateful for the opportunity to do that now - I was asked to do it by the Chairman of the Select Committee. Clearly, if the consultation overwhelmingly shows that everybody is happier with the figure of 200, and that will get us through the legislative reform order, we will consider it. We are suggesting the figure of 100, but that is one of the reasons for the consultation.'

According to a report in Music Week last week, Musicians Union general secretary John Smith believes that almost everyone who responded to the consultation asked for a 200-capacity exemption:

The exemption is opposed by the Local Government Association, however, and an as yet unknown number of individual local authorities.


Hamish Birchall