The Musicians Union gave it a cautious welcome, but licensing
experts have dismissed the government's 'minor variations' amendment as
'useless' and of little benefit.
'What started off as a helpful gesture by the Department for Culture Media
& Sport (DCMS) to overcome the elaborate procedure for varying a licence
has turned into a pedantic nightmare, as MPs and peers entirely missed
the point in their committees. They have insisted on extra safeguards
which in effect turn the measure into a useless addition to the Licensing
Act,' wrote Peter Coulson in The Morning Advertiser on 9th April 2009.
'... we had a simple form of minor variations procedure under the old
law, with the licensing justices giving instant decisions, and it worked
pretty well. Residents were not prejudiced, but it gave operators the
opportunity to alter their premises, usually for the better. Now, suspicious
neighbours will be objecting on principle to even the most uncontroversial
of actions, simply because they can.'
Excerpts from 'Ups and downs of variations' by Peter Coulson. Full article
Leading licensing lawyer Jeremy Allen predicts that 'In many premises
with residents nearby, where there is time pressure, there is little chance
that the procedure will be used':
But if the experts are right, why did the Musicians Union give the minor
variations process a cautious welcome, and Music Week magazine claim only
last Monday, 20 April, that this was a 'major boost to nursery venues'?
Both the MU and the music industry are lobbying the government to extend
copyright in sound recordings. This suffered a setback recently when the
UK government voted against the European Copyright Term Directive. One
reason among others why the MU and the music industry may not want to
rock the government's entertainment licensing boat too hard.