Uncorrected minutes of the first oral evidence session
of the Culture Committee Licensing Act inquiry, Tuesday 14 October, are
now available: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmcumeds/uc1093-i/uc109301.htm
The minutes are prefaced with the caveat that neither witnesses nor Members
have had the opportunity to correct the record, and that the transcript
is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.
After exploring the impact on crime and disorder, Committee chairman John
Whittingdale asked local authority representatives for their view on live
music. First to reply was Councillor Chris White, chair of the Board of
Culture, Tourism and Sport, at the Local Government Association:
'Live music is, like anything else which is an attraction in licensed
premises, potentially a public order problem,' he began. 'If you start
from that point of view, then it becomes clear what you must do...'
He then talked about a live music pub that had caused 'an enormous problem',
and misleadingly implied that controls such as the addition of doormen,
closed doors etc were an innovation of the new licensing legislation:
'... there were huge complaints from local residents before the
legislation came in, because it was a live music venue, it had a back
room especially for it, and all the tribute bands that you could imagine
were there and are there. Since there has been better co-operation
between that landlord and the licensing authority, the doormen are there,
they are enforcing that people do not drink outside after 11 o?clock,
they are making sure the doors are closed, and that means that we have
a great live music venue ? and another one down the road. I think that
is the normal attitude of local authorities. Clearly there have been arguments
? and we are aware of the report as well ? but I would not want you to
think there is a general problem in local authorities not approving of
In fact, all the controls he mentions were available and regularly used
under the old public entertainment licensing regime. In any case, separate
noise legislation has already been used to considerable effect by London
councils, ranging from the closure of West End theatre productions (Camden,
Umoja, 2002) to banning a busker (Westminster City Council v Prian Bruno
McDonald, 28 October 2002, Neutral Citation Number:  EWHC 2698 (Admin)).
Despite his position, Councillor White apparently said nothing about any
benefit of live music.
Patrick Crowley, licensing manager for the Royal Borough of Kensington
and Chelsea managed slightly better: 'In relation to live music,
I have canvassed the London licensing managers and the percentage of live
music applications that have been refused over London is absolutely minimal.
There is not any sort of feeling in London?s local government that live
music is not a good thing.'
Later in the evidence session, the police were asked for their view about
a hypothetical exemption for gigs up to 200 capacity.
In his response Chief Inspector Adrian Studd of the Association of Chief
Police Officers said:
' ... If we were to allow music to go down that same road and
be completely unregulated for 200 people, potentially there are those
issues there. Whilst on the surface your pub band or whatever is not a
problem, it does leave it open to abuse and if there are no safeguards
there that causes concern.'
But of course such events taking place in pubs or bars are not unregulated.
They are already subject to exactly the same regulations that the government
is satisfied are sufficient to regulate football supporters watching a
big screen match in a bar.