The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin

Thursday 29th July 2010 - Licensing reform - implications for live music

The Home Office yesterday announced a six-week consultation on radical reform of alcohol licensing. The aim is to give more power to the police and local authorities to tackle alcohol-related crime:

Leading licensing lawyer Jeremy Allen said: 'The proposals would, if implemented, signal the most radical change to licensing laws ever attempted in the shortest possible time.' See:

'10 key points' on the government's proposed alcohol licensing reforms by the Morning Advertiser:

However, the proposals do not appear to affect the Coalition's plans to relax entertainment licensing for small gigs. Regulated entertainment remains the responsibility of DCMS. The Home Office consultation document includes this statement:

'The Government will be consulting separately on the Coalition's proposals to deregulate live music and similar performances.'
Source: 'Rebalancing the Licensing Act: a consultation on empowering individuals, families and local communities to shape and determine local licensing,' Executive Summary, para 1.01, p4. See PDF file:

In the House of Commons on Monday 26 July, licensing minister John Penrose would not be drawn when asked to give a date for reform of the Licensing Act to exempt small gigs.

Chris Heaton-Harris, the Conservative MP for Daventry, said: 'I wish to press my hon. Friend because I would like a date or time scale for the removal of these measures, which were introduced in the Licensing Act 2003 and which have been so detrimental to live music.'

Penrose replied: 'I am afraid that I cannot give my hon. Friend a precise date, if only because the devil is in the detail. I can only assure him that we are working through these measures as quickly as possible. A number of stakeholders - as the jargon has it - have to be consulted, and today I had meetings with people from the Local Government Association and Local Government Regulation in order to ensure that all the relevant people have been consulted. We will do it as fast as we can.'

See Hansard:

And trade press coverage:

I asked the DCMS press office earlier this afternoon to confirm whether or not an entirely new public consultation on an exemption for small gigs was planned. At the time of writing DCMS had not replied.

It may be that when the Home Office says the government will be 'consulting separately' for live music this does not mean repeating the public consultation on a small gigs exemption that was concluded earlier this year by the previous government.


Hamish Birchall