The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Thursday 4th July 2007 - LMF recommendations - new licensing minister responds

While Feargal Sharkey sings his new 'negative impact' tune to the press today, the new licensing minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, has issued an interim response to the Live Music Forum report:

'I welcome the report. It raises many interesting and challenging ideas on how the UK's live music scene can be further supported. We will now look at each of the recommendations, discuss with stakeholders and will respond fully in due course.'

But what's to discuss? And why delay implementing key LMF recommendations, particularly the small gigs exemption which the report says is required 'as a matter of some urgency'?

With one notable exception - the police - all the relevant stakeholders have been represented on the LMF since its creation in 2004: local authorities, Arts Council, hospitality organisations, Musicians Union and others. Moreover, DCMS civil servants working with the LMF are likely to have known what its recommendations would be for the past two months at least.

My guess is that the minister i s stalling largely because of government hubris - the Act was sold by DCMS as 'much better for live music' - and possibly because of behind the scenes opposition to the small gigs and acoustic exemptions from local authorities and the police.

A draft of the LMF report leaked last month cited opposition from LACORS (Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services) to the proposed exemptions for small gigs and acoustic music. Lacors is represented on the LMF. Interestingly, references to LACORS' opposition appear to have been omitted from the LMF report published today.  At the time LACORS declined to comment on the leaked report. I am awaiting a statement from LACORS now that the LMF report has been published. I will circulate that when it arrives.

Parliament starts its summer holidays on 26 July and doesn't return until 08 October.  The government may be hoping that if they can stall until the summer recess, the live music licensing problem will recede. That is unlikely.

DCMS links to full LMF report:

Feargal Sharkey and Steve Knightley (from folk duo Show of Hands) talking this morning on BBC Radio 4 Today

Coverage in this morning's Times online:

Hamish Birchall