The Live Music Forum

Phil Little Bulletin

Wednesday 1st June 2011 - Who Stands To Benefit ?

On 13th May Hamish Birchall wrote, "licensing problems for live music are likely to get worse before they get better.",

and he listed three elements of the Police Reform Bill which held cause for concern,

a) Councils will be allowed to impose conditions on Temporary Event Notices (TENs), the licence required if the premises is not already licensed for live music. At present only the police are allowed to object on crime and disorder grounds;

b) anyone within a council area will be allowed to object to a licence application, not just those living in the vicinity of the venue; and

c) the evidence test for imposing licence conditions will be lowered from 'necessary' to 'appropriate'.

This week Music Week reports on the "confusion" surrounding live music reform.

Written by Robert Masson, the article draws attention to areas which might cause concern to operators of venues, musicians or supporters of live music.

"Chief among the controversial proposals are options for local authorities to ban alcohol sales between midnight and 6am, while there  is also a suggestion that venues could be taxed with revenues split between the police and councils."

Promoter Dominique Czopor was quoted as saying business rates had gone up 300% in the last year. “Plus there are PRS rates, PPL fees, waste removal and all the associated costs of running commercial premises, to pay, so a night time levy would just kill venues like mine,”

One thing that threatens a lot of gigs is the 'single complaint', where one complaint from a neighbour can prompt a Council to enforce unreasonable conditions on a license, issue noise abatement orders, or, stop live music completely at a popular and otherwise trouble free venue.

Police Reform proposals contain a 'vicinity test' and would allow any person within that Council area to object to an event, even if they did not live near to the venue. Will this mean that one person who lived a mile or more away and complained about a venue could trigger the end of live music at the venue ? What logic lies behind such a restrictive proposal ? Who stands to benefit ?

It looks as though what the Government is giving with one hand, it is taking back with the other.   They bend to the will of the Local Government Association, who remain exempt from the Freedom Of Information Act and seem to have nobody monitoring or controlling what they get up to.

Until some kind of regulation is applied to the LGA they are likely to continue to lobby for and apply laws to restrict live music and our freedom of expression.

Keep Live Music

Phil Little
Live Music Forum