The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin

Tuesday 3rd November 2009 - DCMS silent on small gigs exemption - Lib Dems raise questions

It is nearly two weeks since licensing minister Gerry Sutcliffe announced that the government wanted to act 'very quickly' on a new entertainment licensing exemption for small gigs.

But still there has been no statement from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, nor any sign of the minister's promised 12-week public consultation. Hitherto, all significant licensing policy announcements have been issued in a general press release by DCMS.

Reliable sources suggest that both the police and local government remain in the dark about the detail of the proposed exemption and the consultation.

Meanwhile Sting criticised the impact of licensing on pubs and clubs on the BBC One Show yesterday (Monday 2nd November 2009):

'...The music industry is this multi-million dollar business and the shop-floor is not the X Factor, it's pubs and clubs up and down the country where you get in your van and you go up and down the M1 and you build an audience that way. That's how you build backbone... I think those clubs and pubs are closing down because of government legislation, because of the licensing laws which is ridiculous. They're losing an industry. [Playing live is]...the only way"

See: (quotes above start 5'46" into the programme)

Perhaps someone at DCMS, maybe even a minister, will make discreet contact with Sting's management and claim that their latest licensing statistics show an 11% increase in venues with live music permission since 2007. But they are unlikely to mention the 2007 DCMS live music research which found a 5% fall in gigs in small venues since the Licensing Act came into force in 2005, and that most of the 11% is likely to be councils licensing their own spaces, and schools and other venues having to get permissions that they never needed before.

Liberal Democrat peer Tim Clement-Jones, author of the private members bill that would implement exemptions for a range of venues and events up to 200-capacity, has tabled a series of Parliamentary Questions to keep the government on their toes. Answers are expected within two weeks:

Lord Clement-Jones to ask Her Majesty's Government...

... what are (a) the terms of reference of, and (b) the timescale for, the proposed consultation on an entertainment licensing exemption for live music. HL6171

... what plans they have to publicise their proposed consultation on an entertainment licensing exemption for live music. HL6172

... whether their proposed consultation on an entertainment licensing exemption for live music will include consultation on venues with a capacity of up to 200 people. HL6173

... what proportion of the 5 per cent increase in venues with a live music permission, reported in the 2008-09 Alcohol, Entertainment and Late Night Refreshment Licensing statistics published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on 22 October, (a) is accounted for by applications from schools and councils licensing their own premises, including parks and streets, and (b) are premises that would not have needed such a permission before the Licensing Act 2003 came into effect. HL6174

... why they are holding a further consultation on a possible entertainment licensing exemption for live music. HL6175

... what measures are in place to deal with any noise and anti-social behaviour arising at small venues that would qualify for the proposed entertainment licensing exemption for live music. HL6176

See (search for 'Clement' on the page):


Hamish Birchall