Still no word from the Council - but.......
The session at The Boot Inn Weymouth, is no more. This is where many of New Star participants eventually found a home (for a time).
The story is that the latest licensee took over the pub and inherited (happily) the Wednesday session. However he was advised by the previous licensee to obtain a PEL. He had a visit from the Council's enforcement officer who advised that it was unlikely that he would be bothered by the Council but that it would be a good idea to obtain the PEL in case anyone complained. He set about this and got the forms and went as far as placing the public notice on the window.
I met him today and I found him to be a nice bloke, new to the trade, who loves the pub, likes the music and is trying to do the right thing. He was a bit surprised that the enforcement officer did not inform him that the Council were in fact discussing on the 9th February, the very point that made the Wednesday session problematic and his other, (duo) conventional entertainment OK.
Either the officer did not know or is confident that this reckless, damaging and legally unsupported interpretation will continue to be imposed upon us by our officers, whatever the expert legal advice is saying to the contrary or whatever the wishes of the elected members and public. I left a copy of the 9 February minutes with him (above).
He had gone into the cost of obtaining the PEL (new wiring etc) - and it was this cost that made him decide not apply for the PEL but to reluctantly stop the session instead. The last session held was on Wednesday 7 April 2004.
It would seem to me that he is in a good position. For he has stopped the session (based on the officer's advice) and chosen not to apply for the PEL. This proves to the Council (if it needed proving) that their current policy/interpretation/position/view is directly preventing these activities, with no specific safety concern, and is not selling many PELs.
It is ironic that we have now lost two sessions locally that were never advertised at all - but two (open mics) continue to be openly advertised every week - without any action being taken. These venues not appearing on the latest list of local PELs.
There is little doubt that the regulars would have expected their session at the Boot to be part of the 3rd Council organised festival due in May. However, this was never going to be, as the details of this 'illegal' activity could have never appeared in the Council produced programme, could it? So this festival's weekend session custom looks set to go the Weymouth pubs - with no track record of supporting folk music through the year but who have paid the Council their 'protection' money.
If the law supported this interpretation - we would all have to just accept it. However, we know that the law DOES NOT. If this licensee decides to fight - the Council will have to prosecute to try and prove that the law supports the idea that unpaid pub customers making music, MUST be considered as 'performers' in a public entertainment.
Why for example, are the officers not maintaining that customers singing along with a conventional paid but exempt duo - are also performers in a public entertainment? Where is the difference? The two main organisers of the Boot session could play and advertise and still be exempt. It is only when others join in - that the problem occurs. If the officers can prove that those joining in are (more than two) 'performers' in the temporary employ of the licensee - they may have a chance of winning in court, but how can they be expected to prove this - for they are clearly not?