Thursday, 5 July 2007

New Licence law harms small gigs

The UK Government (surprise surprise) brought in new laws in 2005, introducing a single licence covering entertainment and alcohol, aimed at easing restrictions on live music.

Where would the law of unintended consequences be without good old Nu-Lab and their constant regulating and meddling.

The Live Music Forum is complaining that small local venues staging acoustic concerts are being put at risk by the new licensing laws and should be exempt from the regulations.

The forum, set up by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, recommended that acoustic performances and performances that are not the main attraction at a venue should be exempt from licensing.

Without unknown bands playing at small gigs you will eventually run out of more successful groups, as they will find it much more difficult to ever develop in the numbers we are used to. What will that do to the music industry, or the aspirations of young hopefuls.

Apparently in one instance a brass band was told it could only perform religious songs if their performance was for charity. They were told they needed to apply for a licence which would cost more than they actually expected to raise.

There was also a case where a pub landlady was told she must obtain a variation in her licence so regular gatherings of a group of elderly men who sang folk songs together could continue.

Licensing minister Gerry Sutcliffe welcomed the "interesting and challenging" findings. Oh-Oh - weasel words alert!

He continued: "We will now look at each of the recommendations, discuss with stakeholders and will respond fully in due course." Why do politicians talk like this? To avoid actually saying anything at all? To avoid committing themselves to anything.

Why can’t they say something like: “From what you say, it does sound as if things are not quite working as we had intended. Give me the report and I’ll look into it to see if it can be improved. “?

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