Published on February 2nd, 2012 | by Dean Carr
Live Music Bill to amend alcohol licensing law
A revised ‘Live Music Bill’ has passed through Commons on Friday 20 January, promising to amend alcohol licensing law for small music venues. Provided it passes through the final consideration of amendments, the enacted bill will allow smaller music venues with a capacity of 200 or less to host live music without the need to amend the premises licence or apply for a temporary events licence. UK Music magazine has reached with enthusiasm to the bill’s progress through Commons: “This is a great day for music. The Live Music Bill will make a real and positive difference to lives of musicians”.
The ‘live music bill’ was introduced as a private members’ bill by Tim Clement-Jones in the House of Lords and has been represented by Liberal Democrat culture spokesman Don Foster in the House of Commons. Its successful passage through Commons has provoked a positive response from council spokespersons and live music media.
The Culture, Tourism and Sport Board of the Local Government Association have immediately declared their support: “The Live Music Bill does a good job in streamlining the process while leaving councils with enough ways to protect residents who may be adversely affected.” Music magazines, including UK Music and NME, have heavily publicised the bill, celebrating the implications for small music venues. Prior to the bill, the NME magazine had launched a campaign to try and raise awareness of the plight of smaller music venues, and reacted favourably this week.
Since the introduction of the Licensing Act 2003, designed to streamline and simplify licensing, small live music venues have struggled to adapt to both the cost of a premises licence covering live music and the licence application process. Alcohollicence.org covered many of these developments in 2011. A popular Peterborough music venue, Club Revolution, closed in April 2011 after owners “took their eyes off the ball” and failed to renew their premises licence with Peterborough City Council.
In February 2011, the Music Industries Association pledged to back the campaign to support live music, but questioned whether the government’s ‘Big Society’ initiative will take the issue seriously.
The impact on licensing regulations on live music is just one aspect to a broader issue, as licensing restrictions apply to drama, dance, film and indoor sport. In recent months, a number of smaller live music and theatre venues have been forced to close, including Liverpool’s Masque Theatre, Leicester’s Charlotte and Sheffield’s Boardwalk.
Confusion over legislation is by no means a solely British dilemma. It was announced this week that the organisers of Heatwave Festival, held at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne, have failed to obtain a liquor licence for the event.
With the full implementation of the Licensing Act 2003 in 2005, former additional licences (such as entertainment licences) relating to licensed premises became part of a single, streamlined premises licence. A premises licence enables on or more ‘licensable activities’ to be conducted on the premises. Without a premises licence, these licensable activities cannot be conducted lawfully on the premises. The provision of regulated entertainment, which includes plays, indoor sporting events, the performance of live music and the playing of recorded music, is one such licensable activity. If the pattern of licensable activities changes within a premises (due to, for example, the introduction of live music), a change of use application must be filed with the local licensing authority with regards to the premises licence, and an operating schedule must be drawn up by the Designated Premises Supervisor.
Further information and advice regarding the premises licence can be found on the Personal Licence Training Ltd website: http://www.personallicence.com/services