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GUEST,The Shambles Licensing consultation announced! (1356* d) RE: Licensing consultation announced! 28 Jan 12

With the Live Music Bill, there has been some move in the legislation back to before when Alcohol and Entertainment were linked together and required the same licence under the Licensing Act 2003 (the Act).

For the LMB has once again secured some sensible safeguards for small-scale live music, which were lost under the Act.

It has obtained these for venues which would not normally serve alcohol, when such safeguards as there were previous to the Act, like the 'two-in-a-bar rule' were confined to pubs etc.

But we now have a new situation which was not previously an issue for live music, as venues licensed for alcohol were all mainly closed around 11.30pm, unless permission (usually in the form of additional licensing permission) was obtain to enable later closing times.

We have the situation where pub & clubs can now serve alcohol until much later than 11pm but where additional entertainment licensing must be obtained in order for live music to continue past 11pm.

With the Live Music Bill in place, should any session which is taking place in any venue without additional entertainment licensing in place, extend past 11pm - the activity will become illegal at this point and the licensee (and possibly the session's organiser) will be liable for the Max of 6 Months in prison or a £20,000 fine.

This 11pm curfew is said to be required on the grounds of preventing noise - and automatically applies even where the music is non-amplified and despite the fact that special anti-noise measures already kick-in at 11pm and before a note of music has been sounded to establish if the live music is a noise pollution concern or not.

The irony is that the Govt's support for the LMB (the reason it passed) was conditional on this 11pm curfew being set in the LMB but when the consultation for the Govt's own proposal contain a very good argument against the introduction of such a set time.

As the main argument against continued additional entertainment licensing is that it is now duplication of issues already covered by other existing legislation - it seems that this set curfew when additional entertainment will automatically kick in, is already covered and is duplication of issues that are already covered.

The MU, in refusing calls from their membership to publicly oppose the main issue for their members which is contained in Licensing Act 2003 - are supporting the 'spurious' basic premise on which the requirement for the Act's remaining additional entertainment licensing permission is based.

This premise is that, in advance of a note of music being sounded, live music and musicians will automatically present concerns which existing planning, environmental, health, safety and other legislation is inadequate to deal with and which only additional entertainment licensing permission is adequate to deal with.

Any remaining supporters of the expensive additional entertainment permission measures contained in the Licensing Act 2003, need to finally inform us of exactly what the concerns are, which only this additional entertainment licensing permission is adequate to deal with, why this other existing legislation is inadequate and why this cannot be made fit for purpose?

Until and unless they can convince us of this, perhaps the poor old and long-suffering scapegoat - that is live music and musicians - can finally be set free?

The DCMS now have the results of the latest of many such consultations and perhaps will be either prepared to try and convince us or be brave enough to finally bury the concept on which additional entertainment licensing permission (for every occasion) is based.

There comes a time when the stabilising wheels on a child's bicycle have served their purpose and where retaining them can only impede forward progress. At this point, these wheels can safely be removed. This is the point that the use of additional entertainment licensing permission (for all occasions) has now reached.

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