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More from Traditional Music Magazine

Intended purpose of Licensing Bill From the Under?Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Kim Howells


The Licensing Bill would not criminalise impromptu or spontaneous singing (letters, November 27). What it would do is ensure that, where music and dancing are to be a regular feature at a venue, local residents would have the opportunity to air their concerns with the local licensing authority before a decision was made.

The Bill would improve the opportunities for musicians to perform in public venues. The Government does not accept that certain types of music, for example acoustic folk music, are never noisy and should therefore be excluded from the new licensing regime.

The licensing authority would have the power to impose necessary and proportionate conditions in order to protect residents and customers.

The Licensing Bill would allow people to have a good night out and enjoy themselves, while making sure that those that wish to stay in for a peaceful evening can do so.

Fees for licences will be set centrally by the Secretary of State under secondary legislation, and it would be open to her, where appropriate, to set fees at a reduced level for charities and religious groups or indeed to decide that they should be waived.

Some churches fear that disproportionate and costly conditions may be attached to licences ' However, under the Bill all licensing authorities would be required to have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State. And it is intended that this will make clear that it would be wholly inappropriate to attach disproportionate conditions to licences affecting churches and other charitable institutions.

Sent to The Daily Mail, December 2 2002

From Bryan Chalker

Dear Editor,

1 am pleased that Eric Spencer, in his 'Swansong for the pub singalong' letter (December 2nd), has highlighted the serious threat, to live acoustic music in England as the direct result of more meddling by this sinister and increasingly repressive Government.

Traditional Music Maker magazine, of which 1 am Associate Editor, has been waging war on this draconian music tax for a considerable time. It is interesting to note that the Government's justification for the increase in regulation of live musicians is that 'one musician with modern amplification can make more noise than three without'. This has been the case for decades, of course, and was even true at the time the Public Entertainment Licence (PEL) exemption was introduced in 1961. The question is: how big a noise problem are live gigs? Answer: they barely feature in the noise complaint statistics. Over 80% of noise complaints are caused by noisy people in the streets. Noisy machinery or loud recorded music accounts for the remaining percentage. Abolishing the two in a bar 'rule' will have no effect on people outside premises. This Government is making musicians the scapegoat for a much larger problem that has nothing to do with live music!

If the mad mullahs in our midst really want to turn Britain into a fundamentalist Islamic state, where all forms of entertainment are outlawed on pain of death or mutilation, then Blair's intended fatwah on live music here will have kick?started their cause. Be warned ? the

Music Police are on the march and coming to a pub near you!

Sent to The Times, December 3 2002

From Cheryl Jones


Kim Howells is absolutely right (30.11.2002). The scourge of unamplified folk music must be driven from these shores! Why, only the other night 1 was sitting in a pub when two men started to play guitars and sing "All Around My Hat".

The noise levels were phenomenal! It silenced the chanting football crowd in the pub next door ? and the customers of the trendy bar three doors down could not hear the pounding beat of Eminem above the strumming of the plectrums and the nasal strains of the folk singers.

All those who heard were in fear of being assaulted by a Morris Man or someone brandishing a mouth organ in a threatening manner.

The present laws on nuisance are clearly insufficient to deal with this danger to British civilisation. As Kim Howells has said, one amplified musician can make as much noise as three unamplified musicians. If the threat of three unamplified singers is removed then there will be no comparator for the amplified singer and therefore the amplified singer will not be able to make as much noise!

Of course we can trust local authorities to set reasonable terms and conditions for having unamplified music, such as bouncers to control the dangerous followers of folk singing. it would be wholly unreasonable to take a view that English folk music is a minority activity and that there are no recorded instances of folk music riots.

Of course it is right that local authorities do not have the same powers to set terms and conditions for recorded music or wide?screen televisions. Kim Howells says so and he is the Minister for Culture. If he considers three folk singers in a pub as his idea of hell, then it must be so and it is right and proper to take all steps possible to regulate and suppress them.

There being absolutely no nuisance or danger from football matches being shown in pubs or from the volume of recorded music flooding from trendy bars it is obviously not necessary to have any regulation of those activities.

Go for it Mr Howells. Who cares if you have no evidence of nuisance and plenty of evidence that the licensing of folk music could result in it dying? You, as the Minister of Culture, are not in slightest bit interested in ensuring a thread of musical history continues.

Not when you can replace it with wide?screen TV and pounding recorded music. Not when you personally can avoid the whole thing by sticking with the House of Commons bars, which are not regulated at all.

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