The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #57243   Message #899654
Posted By: The Admiral
27-Feb-03 - 11:16 AM
Thread Name: EFDSS on the Licensing Bill - PELs.
Subject: RE: EFDSS on the Licensing Bill - PELs.
For further discussion the following is from Sheila Miller who attended a Press Briefing with Kim Kowells yesterday and appears to have got an oar or two in:

Thought you might all like to see this, and don't know if any of you
are on the Action for Music network. And here's a quick report I sent to the group about yesterday's press briefing, which I attended.

I taped most of today's press briefing with the evil Dr Kim (who was
in quite a jovial mood, in fact); I forgot about the tape recorder
until after I had asked my first question, but got all of it after that, I think.

Unfortunately, it's hard to see me having any time to do a transcript
in the near future. I'll have to work that out. I was rather pleased
with myself, actually (though I know one should not say so): I managed to ask quite a few questions, and get in several points.

There were people there from The Times, The Stage and various other
publications. Howells professed ignorance of the EFDSS. When I asked
why the leading body representing English folk song and dance (giving
the name in full) had been refused a place in the consultation, he
said he wasn't aware of any request from it; I said I understood it
had asked more than once and had been refused; one of his civil
servants said he had heard from the EFDSS last week, and Howells then said he would be glad to have representations from it.

He also seemed entirely ignorant of the present exemption for members-only clubs. I explained that many small music clubs, such as folk and jazz clubs, functioned as such clubs because that was the only way they could operate, and that these were usually acoustic clubs with well behaved audiences, no trailing cables, etc. He said the legislation was certainly not intended to close such places.

There were various questions and points made (some by myself and by Brian Healy) about unreasonable conditions being imposed by local authorities. He insisted that the government would make sure councils did not impose such conditions. I made a point about LAs having ignored both the part of the existing legislation that forbids them to use PELs to raise revenue and Home Office circular 13/2000, which reminded them they were not allowed to do so. I asked if the guidelines would have the force of law.

One of his people (whose name, I think, was Gillian; no idea about surname) said that licensees would have a right of appeal to magistrates and, if that failed, to the Crown Court. I pointed out that that would mean a licensee would be financing, him or herself, a case against a local authority, which had the bottomless purse provided by its ratepayers, and managed to get in Richard Bridge's wonderful quote that only a lawyer married to a lawyer could think that was anything other than a nightmare for the poor publication. They laughed at that.

There was a lot more, but I have no time for any more at present. On a personal level, I was impressed by the fact he helped to clear up at the end. Someone came over to talk to me before I could pick up my
glass and plate, and Howells did so, along with a couple of other
things. Not what one normally expects from a government Minister.

Oh, and I told him at the end, after the briefing had finished, that
there really had been a case in which a pub had been prosecuted
because customers sang 'Happy Birthday', and told him which pub it had been (I'd overheard him making a remark to someone else about silly stories saying pubs would be prosecuted if people sang 'Happy Birthday').

Well Done Shiela!