The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin

Wednesday 29th September 2010 - Dark summer harvest of licensing oppression

Five years since the Licensing Act came into force, and no sign of a let up for live music.

Earlier this year the government revealed in answers to questions from Lord Colwyn that only about 25% of bars and restaurants could lawfully host live music (because they don't have authorisation for 'entertainment facilities'):

But many councils still treat the minority of venues where live music is legal as potential sources of mayhem, crime and disorder. Consider this premises licence condition for a venue in Brent:

'... Live bands and solo musicians may not perform on the premises unless 14 days written notice is provided to the police licensing officer and the police licensing officer have given his/her prior written approval for the performance to take place...'

Or this criminal prosecution of a pub by Dacorum Borough Council for not having their windows closed while jazz was being played:

These are just two of many examples reported by campaigner John King on The Publican's 'Listen Up!' Facebook page - where the pub trade campaigns for more live music:!/group.php?gid=141223114767&v=wall&ref=ts

The impression is that councils and nimby local residents would rather promote the sale of alcohol than the playing of innocuous live music. And that is indeed what happened to a Dorset Tea house earlier this month:

The irony is that the social and economic cost of alcohol abuse to local authorities and the police must exceed by several orders of magnitude the cost of occasional noise nuisance enforcement against live music.

For a new and up-to-date investigation into the shrinking infrastructure for live music as a consequence of entertainment licensing, see the 'Three Rivers Case Study' link on the Live Music Forum website:

It would seem that none of the area's 34 restaurants can legally host live music.


Hamish Birchall