The Live Music Forum
Hamish Birchall Bulletin
Thursday 10th August 2006 - DCMS: are our regulations 'aggravating'?
Do you find the new live music law aggravating? Could you suggest ways to simplify the law 'without damaging the core aim of the regulation'?
If the answer is yes, then the Department for Culture, Media and Sport want to hear from you. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
DCMS will feed responses into their 'Simplicity Plan' - a set of proposals that the Department intends to publish in November which it believes 'will reduce the burden of legislation whilst maintaining its regulatory purpose'.
Those carefully chosen words tend to imply that whatever the law's regulatory purpose might be, it must be necessary. But where the new Licensing Act is concerned, this is not always the case.
Even now, in terms of the licensing objectives, the only reason DCMS gives for abolishing the 'two in a bar rule' is that it 'failed to protect local residents from noise nuisance'. But DCMS has never explained why separate noise legislation doesn't do the job properly. In October, local authorities get extra powers to control noise in licensed premises between 11pm and 7am (Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act). That is in addition to their powers under the Environmental Protection Act to confiscate noisy equipment immediately (including musical instruments), and issue pre-emptive or reactive noise abatement notices, breach of which is a criminal offence. Noise abatement notices have been used by local authorities to stop noise from West End shows (Camden, 'Umoja', 2002) to lone buskers (Westminster City Council vs Bruno McDonald, also 2002).
Dave Eyre's excellent blog 'Folk music and licensing' has a very interesting entry on the noise issue today:
For more on the DCMS 'Simplicity Plan' see:
http://www.culture.gov.uk/working_with_us/better_regulations/ (scroll down to 'Calling for simplification measures')