The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #57243   Message #941892
Posted By: The Shambles
28-Apr-03 - 10:51 AM
Thread Name: EFDSS on the Licensing Bill - PELs.
Subject: RE: EFDSS on the Licensing Bill - PELs.
I have sent the following to my MP.

Mark Gibbens, Development Officer, English Folk Dance & Song Society
[ Tel 020 7485 2206 | Web ]
Asked Dominic Tambling of the DCMS the following.

I appreciate that you are busy. However, I must press for a hasty response particularly on the question of folk dance in the open on public land.

There is a crucial point here - namely that such activity is not currently licensable, yet will become so under the Licensing Bill. Folk Dance in public spaces can require the *permission* of the local authority in a large town or city, though I don't know of any instance where permission has been necessary on a village green. But this is not the same as requiring a entertainments or premises licence. I have been forwarded several DCMS responses to questions on this topic from folk arts representatives, and each response seems at best to completely duck the issue.

I note that Dr. Howells has said in Committee, "We should be slow to impose additional burdens without justification", yet no justification has yet been made for imposing additional burdens on folk dance.

We are running out of time to make this point heard in Committee, so I would appreciate an urgent response to these two direct questions:

a) Does the Government accept the point that to catch folk dance in the open on public land within the Licensing Bill is to extend licensing to an activity which does not currently require a licence?

b) How does the Government justify imposing additional licensing burdens in the case of folk dance in the open on public land?

Dominic Tambling replied:

Folk dance in the open on public land is already licensable in Greater London and in the parts of the country where the local authority has adopted the appropriate parts of Schedule 1 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.

He is correct on one point: the legislation in London is different, and technically public dancing in 'any place' is licensable in Greater London.

But again this is licensing reform, so even if it is currently licensable, given the stated objectives of this so-called deregulatory Bill, where is the evidence of the risks presented by it, that mean it should remain so?

Where is the Government's logic? The situation is identical to the one that existed with churches. So logically, the choice should be exactly the same choice that was made for churches. The churches in London were brought in line with those outside London and all made exempt. So all dancing on public land in London should also be made exempt, to bring it into line with the situation outside of London........

Can the Standing Committee establish why the Government are proposing the exact opposite?

For Mr Tambling is completely wrong about the legislation on PUBLIC land outside of London. The adoptive part of this legislation to which he refers is paragraph 3 of Schedule 1 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982. This applies to performances on PRIVATE land, not PUBLIC land.

If a local authority adopts this provision (and almost all have), a PEL is required for public performance on private land (i.e. pub car park or garden).

But PELs are not currently required for open air events on PUBLIC land outside London.

So despite the deregulatory claim - yet more, perfectly safe and valuable cultural activity is to come under completely unnecessary and impossible to enforce licensing regulation. Can the Standing Committee establish why and what the evidence and justification is?

In the following, the DCMS at least agree that the Bill is increasing regulation, do you still support your Government's claim that the Bill is not? For there can be no question that for music and dance the overall effect of this Bill is a dramatic increase in regulation.

The Bill will introduce consistency throughout England and Wales and this means that in some areas activities which are not currently licensable will be caught.

However the claim that the Bill introduces consistency is illogical and reckless: As performance of dance in any place of religious worship (which could be in the open) will be exempt. As will performances of dance at non-profit-making garden fetes and similar functions. This is hardly introducing consistency.

The Government does not believe that there is any justification for treating public land in a different manner to other space since the issues of safety etc for performers and spectators are no different.

If they are no different, then all dancing on public land can be treated consistently and follow the Government's logic on the church U turn and be made exempt in London, as they currently are all across the country. Not by using the reverse logic and doing the very opposite by making all dancing on public land licensable as it currently is in London.

Given the above and the stated objectives of this Bill, if the safety of performers and spectators cannot be regulated except by permissions under the Licensing Bill, then clearly there should be no exemptions at all (especially for churches).

Ministers have always been clear that the Bill is deregulatory in some ways and regulatory in others but that the overall effect is deregulatory. What the Government wants to achieve is better regulation.

Long live Sir Humphrey! Than means trample and ignore the culture, let's have the regulation instead.

The Government will be encouraging local authorities to license public land so that folk groups would simply have to request permission to perform on it, as they often do at present. Local authorities would, however, be able to refuse permission to performers who might cause nuisance to local residents such as young people with sound systems if that was appropriate.

The DCMS say the Government is going to just ENCOURAGE local authorities to licence some public land.
Can the Standing Committee establish how with the Bill as worded is it possible to require (or refuse) a further permission for premises that are already licensed for public music and dancing?

Can the standing Committee establish the evidence and justification for increasing the regulation and terminally damaging our precious cultural traditions in a completely reckless and illogical manner?