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GUEST,ET Licensing Bill moves on -OUR FUTURE (286* d) RE: Licensing Bill moves on -OUR FUTURE 28 Apr 03


The flyer. Copy, and complete leter to MP

FOLK ILLEGAL UNLESS LICENSED

The Government still plans to make virtually ALL folk dance and folk music illegal without a local authority licence. Government propaganda and letters are not the whole truth. Write to your MP NOW. A letter is on the back. Please address it to your MP from you, sign it and send it.

The Licensing Bill is in the House of Commons NOW. A licence will be demanded for ANY live music or dance or drama (with few exceptions), in any place made available for the purpose – if it is to entertain any audience, or even if just for the enjoyment of musicians or dancers. This applies if the entertainment is public, OR in a private club, OR if any charge is made (not just an entry charge) by any organiser to anyone entertained. It will apply to Morris and other folk dance, even in the open air, possibly even in the street. It will apply to mumming and wassailing. It will apply to even one unamplified singer or player.

The licence fee may be about £500. An application at the same time as for a liquor licence will be no extra. The local authority will lay down conditions to protect the public interest anyway– and we all know what that means. "Temporary event notices" will be cheaper but these are restricted. The government says this will make it EASIER to present live events!! But at present performances in private clubs, one or two musicians in pubs, and dance in the open air outside London are not restricted.

The government says fire exits might be blocked or capacity limits needed (what, in the open air?) or dangerous stages or wires used (all covered by other laws): so licensing is essential, even if no amplifiers are used!! This is madness.

But big-screen TVs, and "incidental" music (in practice juke boxes and DJs without dancing) will be exempt, and will not need a licence, no matter how loud. Nor will they be subjected to "conditions" (like soundproofing or new lavatories or air conditioning, or obligatory bouncers) at the pub's expense. And the government says that live music will not be exempt as "incidental" if it is advertised – even if unamplified. Guess what a landlord will prefer to do if his alcohol licence may be held up until he complies with "conditions"?

The government denies that the folk arts need any special protection or consideration, or are unlikely to impact safety or order. But it accepted it should exempt ALL events in places of worship – even if the events are not religious. Why are these, big screen TVs, and juke boxes exempt, but not folk ?

Richard McD. Bridge Email McLaw@btinternet.com
To…………………………….

MP for ………………….

House of Commons,

London SW1A 1AA

From: ……………………………
…………………………………
………………………………
……………………………
…………………………
………………………

Date……………….

Dear…………………………….

I am writing about the Licensing Bill. It is obviously wrong to treat folk music – usually unamplified – as if it were amplified. It is obviously wrong to treat folk dance – performed by a small side to unamplified music – as if it were a rave or disco. These folk arts do not cause the same noise or disturbance. These do not cause the same behaviour. These do not carry electrical hazards.

Worse, it is irrational to ignore the special needs of our cultural heritage. These things deserve government support, not regulation to extinction.

Worse still, it seems to be intentional discrimination, and an intentional and unjustifiable interference with freedom of expression, to pretend that these things must be regulated because of noise disturbance and safety risks (when, being unamplified, they create no such risks) but to exempt other entertainments which obviously do pose all or some of such risks.

By all means regulate the things that need regulating. But there is no case at all to regulate folk dance, folk music, or acoustic music. It is frankly foolish to pretend that subjecting them to local authority regulation will make them easier to put on. This regulation does the image of the government no good at all. It will do tourism no good at all. It will do the music industry, which draws so much of its real talent from folk club roots, no good at all.

Please examine the arguments the government is using. Do not take their reply uncritically. Compare their words to the actual words of the Bill, and vote against the Bill unless these faults are fixed.

Yours truly,




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