How badly does the government treat live music? Here's
a quick test. One of the two statements below is false. Which one?
1. The government has made it a potential criminal offence merely to have
a piano in a bar for the public to play.
2. The government is planning new law requiring all music venues to fit
noise limiting devices.
Answer: Statement 2.
But this has not stopped a petition based on statement 2 above shooting
into the top 10 on the Number 10 website with nearly 20,000 signatures:
Yesterday the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural affairs (DEFRA),
responsible for noise legislation, denied any such plan. And, a few days
earlier, when I spoke to the petitioner, Warren James, a professional
guitarist based in Coventry ( http://www.musofinder.co.uk/warrenjames/86409
) he was unable to recall where he had heard about this new legislation.
While musicians sympathise with Warren's feeling about noise limiters,
the petition text reveals a fundamental lack of knowledge about existing
For many years, using entertainment licensing, local authorities have
had the power to require venues to fit noise limiters. This continues
under the present regime. So the government doesn't need to introduce
a new law.
But under the current legislation it would be potentially unlawful for
local authorities to impose a blanket requirement that all venues fit
noise limiters, or to impose unnecessary or disproportionate conditions.
Government licensing guidance implies that noise limiters may fall into
the latter category (see p22, para 2.34, Licensing Guidance issued under
s182 of the Licensing Act 2003
download PDF from DCMS website:http://www.culture.gov.uk/reference_library/publications/3667.aspx
Some local authorities may have abused their powers in this regard, however,
enforcing noise limiters where they know licensees cannot afford to challenge
them through the courts. It is worth campaigning against that, although
in many ways that is already being done within the broader campaign to
get small gigs out of the entertainment licensing regime altogether. The
government has promised a public consultation on new exemptions for small
gigs by the Spring.