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Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2

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The Shambles 28 Aug 01 - 05:02 PM
The Shambles 28 Aug 01 - 05:28 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Aug 01 - 06:17 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Aug 01 - 06:20 PM
Gareth 28 Aug 01 - 07:15 PM
The Shambles 28 Aug 01 - 07:18 PM
The Shambles 28 Aug 01 - 07:44 PM
GUEST,Hamish Birchall 29 Aug 01 - 03:27 AM
GeorgeH 29 Aug 01 - 10:14 AM
Roger in Sheffield 29 Aug 01 - 11:24 AM
The Shambles 29 Aug 01 - 12:39 PM
The Shambles 29 Aug 01 - 12:58 PM
Turtle 29 Aug 01 - 03:34 PM
Turtle 29 Aug 01 - 03:54 PM
The Shambles 29 Aug 01 - 04:32 PM
The Shambles 29 Aug 01 - 04:38 PM
GeorgeH 30 Aug 01 - 07:55 AM
The Shambles 30 Aug 01 - 12:27 PM
Gareth 30 Aug 01 - 03:03 PM
Roger in Sheffield 30 Aug 01 - 03:12 PM
Roger in Sheffield 30 Aug 01 - 03:36 PM
Roger in Sheffield 30 Aug 01 - 04:17 PM
Gareth 30 Aug 01 - 07:03 PM
The Shambles 31 Aug 01 - 10:25 AM
Gareth 31 Aug 01 - 03:05 PM
The Shambles 31 Aug 01 - 03:39 PM
Roger in Sheffield 31 Aug 01 - 03:42 PM
The Shambles 31 Aug 01 - 05:30 PM
The Shambles 31 Aug 01 - 05:47 PM
The Shambles 31 Aug 01 - 05:58 PM
Gareth 31 Aug 01 - 06:07 PM
The Shambles 01 Sep 01 - 12:23 PM
The Shambles 01 Sep 01 - 12:35 PM
Roger in Sheffield 01 Sep 01 - 12:46 PM
The Shambles 01 Sep 01 - 12:59 PM
GUEST,session 01 Sep 01 - 02:11 PM
The Shambles 02 Sep 01 - 02:24 AM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Sep 01 - 06:16 PM
The Shambles 03 Sep 01 - 07:13 PM
Gareth 04 Sep 01 - 06:41 PM
The Shambles 04 Sep 01 - 08:15 PM
Roger in Sheffield 05 Sep 01 - 12:52 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Sep 01 - 04:04 PM
The Shambles 05 Sep 01 - 06:25 PM
Roger in Sheffield 06 Sep 01 - 04:39 PM
Gareth 06 Sep 01 - 07:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Sep 01 - 07:25 PM
The Shambles 07 Sep 01 - 02:45 AM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Sep 01 - 06:54 AM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Sep 01 - 07:23 AM
Roger in Sheffield 07 Sep 01 - 08:39 AM
The Shambles 08 Sep 01 - 07:09 AM
Gareth 08 Sep 01 - 08:21 AM
Gareth 09 Sep 01 - 09:18 AM
Gareth 09 Sep 01 - 01:56 PM
Roger in Sheffield 09 Sep 01 - 02:25 PM
Gareth 09 Sep 01 - 06:24 PM
McGrath of Harlow 09 Sep 01 - 06:57 PM
The Shambles 10 Sep 01 - 01:07 PM
The Shambles 12 Sep 01 - 05:36 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Sep 01 - 07:09 AM
GUEST 28 Sep 01 - 07:25 AM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Sep 01 - 08:20 AM
Snuffy 28 Sep 01 - 04:14 PM
The Shambles 29 Sep 01 - 03:40 AM
GUEST 29 Sep 01 - 04:29 AM
McGrath of Harlow 29 Sep 01 - 08:29 AM
The Shambles 29 Sep 01 - 09:57 AM
McGrath of Harlow 29 Sep 01 - 05:36 PM
Gareth 29 Sep 01 - 06:27 PM
The Shambles 29 Sep 01 - 07:55 PM
The Shambles 30 Sep 01 - 08:42 AM
GUEST,ruth@wombat68@fsmail 29 Oct 01 - 10:45 AM
Roger in Sheffield 29 Oct 01 - 01:00 PM
The Shambles 29 Oct 01 - 05:36 PM
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Subject: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 28 Aug 01 - 05:02 PM

This one Will You Write an Email For shambles? is a bit big now.

So is this one ATTENTION ALL MUDCATTERS etc.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 28 Aug 01 - 05:28 PM

After reading Roger's reply from Mr Grainger I really do not think that it is worth wasting time in sending any more emails to the officers.

Emails to the councillors (copied to the local paper) may stir them into questioning the officer's actions. The councillors after all have now endorsed the officers actions as policy. They will have to defend the policy to those that would elect them.

The councillors contact details can be found here.. Weymouth and Portland Borough Council


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Aug 01 - 06:17 PM

Here is a post I made to the old thread at the same time as Shanmbles was setting upmthe new thread - so I thought it'd be happier over here:

Remember, while what we say may not be seen as worth running as a story, what is said to use by officials and by politicians is much more likely to be seen as newsworthy. That is one reason why it is always worth keeping on writing the letters, even though the answers are laughable.

And one letter leads to another - I would think that Tom Grainger's reply to Roger of Sheffield would be the springboard for a letter to Lord Bassem, asking him what he thinks about the way that Weymouth Council evidently regards his advice as so insignificant.

Again, as Shambles poiints out "They will have to defend the policy to those that would elect them." So what is the position as regards music and singing as part of an elctoral public meeting?

For example: "No, this is not a music session as such. This is a meeting organised by the Weymouth Campaign for Live Music, which is planning to put up candidates at the next local election in defence of our right to have music sessions."


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Aug 01 - 06:20 PM

And here is the one thta immediately followed it, which otherwise might get missed, which would be a pity

From: Kimberlin
Date: 28-Aug-01 - 05:48 PM

As a public servant employed by Weymouth Council (but not in licensing) I am probably one of the few people to agree that if a licence is required by any pub due to mplaying of music than that requirement should be enforced universally whatever the background to the case. If you do not enforce rules universally, but only when you feel like it, anarchy entails. By this I mean that once you enforce it for one pub you must enforce it for all.

However that said this law is absolutely ridiculous as it is written (ie without an amateur performer exclusion) as it means every pub requires the licence as you can guarantee that more than once a year "happy birthday" will be sung and "Auld lang syne" will be rendered at new year.

The law needs to be changed to exclude all amateur performances from the scope of the law whether it is new music or traditional music. The fact that through this forum we support folk & roots music is irrelevant to the argument - the key factor is whether the performers are being paid whether they are playing folk, rock, reggae, jazz, Bangra, classical or whatever. All musicians whatever it is that they play should support a campaign to keep live, amateur, music venues open and unlicensed other than for sensible items such as noise levels and safety matters.

However before that change occurs a campaign needs to be aimed at the Local Government Association in the hope that an agreed national code of practice can be issued for the UK that means all local authorities interpret the rules in the same way particularly if, as seems sensible, an agreement is reached nationally that enforcement of the need for a PEL does not occur where the musicians/dancers are unpaid and any collection made on the night for dancing etc goes 100% to charity and not "club" funds.

The law is stupid but so is the current erratic policy regarding enforcement and I am sure as many people will be annoyed if they find their Council is not collecting revenue it could collect as are currently annoyed by what they see as over zealous enforcement of the current stupidly worded law!!!

I certainly hope that my Council tax is being kept down through the persuit of income by relevant officials of both the County and the District Councils - hence the dilemma raised by this daft Act of Parliament!


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Gareth
Date: 28 Aug 01 - 07:15 PM

Kimberlin - As one who sometimes gets involved in the Political Side of Local Government I beg to remind you that Yes! rules must be enforced evenly and without bias.

There is some argument that home office circular 13/2000 lays down the rules on this.

Secondly. The courts have already laid down the fact that a local authority can not use statutary licensing as a means of collecting revenue. Thay can recover costs - that is all.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 28 Aug 01 - 07:18 PM

If you do not enforce rules universally, but only when you feel like it, anarchy entails. By this I mean that once you enforce it for one pub you must enforce it for all.

For the entire period the enforcement was being strictly taken at The Cove, an identical event was taking place, is still taking place and has been taking place for several years, in another pub in the borough. This still has not received any attention from our officers. We hope that it never does.

The Cove session has been running since December 2000. It has only been legally covered by a PEL for six weeks, from 16 May until it expired, without anyone noticing, on the 30 June. The officers have allowed this to continue without a PEL because the licensee had indicated, or was in the process of applying for the PEL. Had the licensee not made the application, the session would have been lost. Had the licensee continued the session without making the application, he would have been prosecuted and faced a six month semtence or £20,000 fine.

Is not the council running a 'blind eye' to some events, strict enforcement to others and a combination of these, all at the same time, exactly the anarchy to which you refer?

Whilst at the same time maintaining that there is no discretion under the law to do this and blaming everyone else?

The level of the revenue gained from PELs here is insignificant. This revenue is only supposed to cover the cost, not reduce the council tax burden anyway. But it may well be doing this here? If so it could explain the situation here, for nothing else makes much sense?

Only the District Auditor will be able to establish how much the ridiculous and long-running saga of the Cove's PEL, with two public hearings and a full committee meeting being required, with the councillor's attendence expenses, has actually cost the local tax payer? For the Licensing Manager will not supply me with that or any other information, she does not wish to anyone to know.

I expect we will now be going to the District Auditor and the Local Government Ombudsman, which will take more time and expense, which we, the local tax payer will be paying for?

Why are we allowing our council to do all this in our name and for our benefit?


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 28 Aug 01 - 07:44 PM

Circular 13-2000, can be found in full on this THREAD.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: GUEST,Hamish Birchall
Date: 29 Aug 01 - 03:27 AM

Thoughts for Kimberlin:

Local authorities could easily develop PEL policies that encourage amateur music. They don't need to wait for a change in the law - or guidance from the LGA.

1) PEL fees are entirely at their discretion. A nil fee could be fixed for certain types of local music.

What is the justification for PEL fees anyway? You are already subsidising provision of all forms of the performing arts through national AND local taxation. Weymouth will have a sizeable arts budget not only from a central Government contribution, but from its Council Tax revenues. Also, the poorest in the community will be contributing the greater part of National Lottery arts funding. When people decide to make their own cultural life locally, why should this be conditional upon paying yet another fee to the council?

2) Counting members of the public as 'performers' under the s 182 exemption to PELs is not set in stone. There appears to be no contemporary case law. The way is open to Weymouth, and other councils, to interpret this provision narrowly (i.e. count only as performers those who are specifically engaged by licensees). This would at least minimise the incompatibility of the present policy and the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention.

Preventing music-making where there are no noise or safety issues is perverse and peculiar. Arguing that this is the inevitable consequence of the letter of the law is not a viable excuse when the enforcement could have a disproportionate effect on freedom of expression.

Weymouth must explain how its enforcement in Roger Gall's case was compatible with Article 10. Under the Human Rights Act, it has a statutory duty to adopt only interpretations of legislation that are compatible with Convention rights.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: GeorgeH
Date: 29 Aug 01 - 10:14 AM

Firstly . . if you email and get a "fob-off" reply then you should reply to it (IMO) - and continue doing so until you are satisfied with the outcome.

Secondly, the argument about "Amateur PELs" is both a nonsense and a non-starter! The PEL legislation is for protecting the public - from danger and nuisance. Whether the performance is amateur or professional hardly enters into this! In any case, a PEL relates to either a venue or a combination of venue/activity. I believe the council's argument is that the pub should have a PEL, not that the organisers of the session should apply for a PEL every time they want to run an event (certainly this is the line which has been taken elsewhere).

The arguement must surely be that a group of people coming together to play some tunes or sing some songs do not constitute an entertainment in the terms of the act; rather they are individuals engaging in social activities (and whose human rights in this respect, as enshrined in the European Convention, are being infringed by the council's incorrect interpretation of the law).

As others have pointed out, Councils are entitled (and, in practice, expected) to set PEL fees which cover the not inconsiderable costs involved. Remember every PEL application has to be commented on by the Police, Fire Service and the Council's own Environmental Health Department. In those authorities where I've been involved in applying for such licences I have to say the costs have not been unreasonable.

George


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 29 Aug 01 - 11:24 AM

GeorgeH the idea of having to pay at all seems unreasonable to me, have I missed something?
is it allowable to sing 'God Save the Queen' in a pub if there are more than two people singing? It would sure make great headlines the next time they try it on Shambles.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Aug 01 - 12:39 PM

The arguement must surely be that a group of people coming together to play some tunes or sing some songs do not constitute an entertainment in the terms of the act; rather they are individuals engaging in social activities (and whose human rights in this respect, as enshrined in the European Convention, are being infringed by the council's incorrect interpretation of the law).

The existing exemption could apply, if the council's would accept this idea that a member of the public (under no obligation to perform) would always be an individual, no matter how many individuals there were present.

They would never form a 'conventional' group of performers, larger than a duo, for conventional entertainment purposes, would they?....What do you think?


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Aug 01 - 12:58 PM

Sorry about the above, the first para was quoting George's comments above

Again to pick up on his comments. Now would be a good time to write as they have given up the standard reply and will respond personally.

That response is not very helpful. However we have little choice but to carry on trying.

Don't forget the BBC Radio 2 Site, HERE. There is a good discussion going on there now.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Turtle
Date: 29 Aug 01 - 03:34 PM

Hi all,

I've been reading these threads & quietly sent off an email to the folks The Shambles recommended a week or so ago. Here's what I got back from Peter Gilmour today. I shall certainly reply, and I'm open to suggestions from the Mudcat masses!

Before you judge us you may find it useful to know  the position in Weymouth, and I would be delighted to supply you with the facts. Weymouth is fully committed to the arts, not just in rhetoric, but in actions.

We provide a fully funded 1000 seat theatre, with a wide ranging programme from the Yetties to the Bolshoi Ballet. The Ocean Room a  multi purpose venue (again provided by the Council) can accommodate 400 with a stage.

Last year we held a FREE two week music festival on the beach with professional and amateur musicians across every spectrum of music. We have produced a Cultural strategy for the Borough and are currently consulting with the community to ensure that it reflects their needs and desires. We have an Arts Development Offices dedicated to working with groups in the community.

These are not the actions of a Council that is opposed to the arts.

For your further information over 80 of the Public Houses in the Borough have an Entertainments License as is required by law. The Council did not make the law, but is required to enforce it. As to the cost, the pub you describe with a small group of people coming together would pay 55 pence per evening for their license, hardly extortionate. I should also point out it is not the pub who are objecting to having an entertainment license, but it is one of the musicians.

Having provided you with the accurate picture, I would ask you in return to tell your friend what an enlightened and fun loving council we are.

Yours

Peter Gilmour
Publicity & Community Liaison Services Manager

I've got a few ideas of where to take this, naturally, but don't hold back!

Turtle


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Turtle
Date: 29 Aug 01 - 03:54 PM

Ooops, just went back and read through the middle of the other thread, where apparently I missed a few things! Never mind....

Turtle


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Aug 01 - 04:32 PM

According to Mr Locke, the council received 25 emails in one day(mostly fron the US)!

They decided to send the 'standard' letter (without saying that was what it was), as they did not have the resourses to reply personally as the emails were based on misinformation.........


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Aug 01 - 04:38 PM

More background info here on Trevor Gilson's site


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: GeorgeH
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 07:55 AM

Roger,

The idea of the PEL is that:

1) A place where the public go to be entertained (e.g. a concert hall) should be safe . . . and should be able to be safely evacuated should an emergency arrise.

2) "Public Entertainments" should not cause a nuisance to other people (e.g. through their noise).

Now I happen to think those are both reasonable objectives, and it's not unresonable that the owner of the venue (or organiser of the event when it's an "occasional" event) should have to pay the costs involved in issuing the licence.

I just believe that applying this licensing system to these sorts of activities is totally inappropriate. (Pubs have to meet certain minimum safety standards to obtain their "drink" licence, and folks can object to such a licence on "nuisance" grounds - THAT should be enough!!)

George


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 12:27 PM

The following appeared in the Dorset Evening Echo 30 August 2001.

LIVE MUSIC IS ALIVE AND WELL

I hesitate to make a song and dance about some of the red herrings contained in recent letters to the Echo about the borough council's policy on public entertainment licenses, but I do need to set the record straight.

The borough council has a duty to administer the public entertainment licensing system under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.

That legislation was introduced to achieve two objectives:
1 To ensure that there are adequate safeguards, inspections and limits to ensure the safety of all persons at the place where the entertainment is taking place;
2 To ensure the amenity of local residents and others is protected from noise and disturbance.

In looking at these two areas it obviously makes no difference whether performers are paid or not. Exactly the same public safety and amenity issues will apply in either case.

What we have to look at is whether legally there is an 'entertainment' within the Act. I am clear that the Act does apply. Mr Roger Gall has not come forward with any evidence that any other authority interprets this law any differently.

The comments of Mr Gall and others are particularly ironic in that Weymouth and Portland is known to have more live music than any town of comparable size.

He states that only six per cent of pubs have public entertainment licenses. That may be true nationally. It is obviously not true here; 68 premises in Weymouth and Portland have public entertainment licenses and eight more are currently being licensed.

Turning to the question of Morris dancing, I am not aware that the council has ever had an application for a licence for this, or even a request for advice about a specific event.

It follows that any statement that we are 'discouraging Morris dancing' is rather wide of the mark.

Finally, it is particularly galling to be accused of being anti-music when the borough council has done so much locally to encourage amateur as well as professional music.

One only has to think of the Millennium Festival on Weymouth Beach last year and the series of events we have been holding this summer in the Pavilion.

Ian Locke --Director of Tourism and Corporate Services


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Gareth
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 03:03 PM

THe Shambles has kindley sent me a JPG of both this and last weeks Dorset Echo letter page.

If you want to see them CLICK HERE

AS Roger has posted the Words I see no point in reiterating them.

Again thanks to the Webmaster of the Organisation concerned for lending us the Webspace, (and GCI controls and pasword)

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 03:12 PM

Should we contact the government department that now covers culture and public entertainment licensing? dcms


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 03:36 PM

Time for Reform: Proposals for the Modernisation of Our Licensing Laws (White Paper) CM4696
Jack Straw wants your views


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 04:17 PM

quickly scanning the white paper it looks like folk musicians don't exist in law; so unless we let them know that we are here, we will miss the boat with the next legislation too.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Gareth
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 07:03 PM

Yes, I agree, only it's not just Folk that disappears down the memory hole, its any small, non commercial session.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 31 Aug 01 - 10:25 AM

Another thread on the subject and offering help has appeared here PEL UK

Why the originator thinks he may get flamed, here on The Mudcat is a mystery however?


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Gareth
Date: 31 Aug 01 - 03:05 PM

THe Shambles et al.

Good coverage in the Stage Newspaper, and thanks those what tipped them of.

If you want to see the article JPG file (Standard 4) Click Here

But please keep that support comming - and spread it about a bit - your MP on reform of the law, your other forums etc. And dont forget the Mail to the Council and Councillors.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 31 Aug 01 - 03:39 PM

Has Mr Locke convinced you all then?

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council

Copy to the local paper letters@dorsetecho.co.uk. As short as you can and with your full address (they won't print it in full).

I can't begin to tell you all what a difference the letters so far have made. The battle has not been won yet, but with all your help, it will be...

Are there any more replies?


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 31 Aug 01 - 03:42 PM

Gareth I was going to send a link (to this thread) to a local folk club organiser. then I had a look and realised that for someone coming late to the discussion it is difficult to follow. This might be why I did not understand the point when looking at some of the very early threads on this topic. So would it be possible for someone to sum up the state of play in very simple terms. A webpage with a very simple explanation and links to more detailed info would be a great place to send people new to this topic.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 31 Aug 01 - 05:30 PM

This is the background for my local situation.

This is the background. When the current licensees took over the Cove, my wife and I performed there as conventional paid public entertainment. As a result the Friday night became a regular night for this. As long as the two-performer aspect was kept to, a Public Entertainment Licence was not required as the Section 182 exemption (the so-called two-in a bar rule) applied.

Another pub has held a regular sing-around for about 5 years now, without a Public Entertainment Licence. This is not a conventional public entertainment. The musicians are unpaid customers just making traditional song for their own entertainment, with the permission of the licensee. The licensee of The Cove had visited this sing-around with me and would have liked to have a similar thing in their pub but did not want to take away any custom from this establishment.

This session became busy and there was a conflict between songs and tunes. We thought that a session on another night of the week, for tunes only would solve a number of problems. We needed to advertise that it was for tunes only. In our naivety we did not dream that the licensing authority would class customers providing their own traditional music, as performers for the sole purpose of preventing it.

I advertised for participants for the first night 07/12/200, in our local paper, the licensing manager saw this, wrongly assumed that the licensee had place it and was staging a public entertainment. The premises were visited the next day 08/12/00 and the licensee was threatened, even though at this point, the event had not been witnessed to ascertain how many musicians were involved. When it was witnessed they saw what they wanted to see, a public entertainment with more than two performers. They did not bother to speak to any of the musicians. A letter was issued warning that the licensee faced a possible £20,000 fine or a six month prison sentence if it continued.

When I heard of this action I contacted the licensing dept and explained. It would be fair to say that they did not really consider it to be any of my business but a matter only between them and the licensee. Despite the council's other obligations, all they appeared to be concerned about was that it was unfair on the pubs that had PELs. The original event has not received any attention from our officials and continues.

Events of this nature usually stop at this point, the licensee being unwilling to pay for the cost of a PEL. In this case however the licensee did apply on 01/02/01 The PEL was eventually granted on 16/05/01 but with conditions that were not decided by councillors, in the public hearing scheduled for this on 09/05/01. This hearing being cancelled at the very last moment, by the officers, and the conditions applied in private. These conditions preventing any outside entertainment from taking place except once every August. I have established that this includes Morris dancing on land belonging to the premises. Far from enabling it the PEL has resulted in this traditional activity at the pub being prevented.

I did not feel that the elected members and the public would be happy with this and requested that the policy and the future of traditional music locally, be decided by a meeting of the elected members. Eventually on 05/06/01 a meeting of the Social and Community Committee were recommended to "confirm that steps taken by Licensing Officers to encourage an application from the proprietor of The Cove House Inn., Portland for a licence permitting public entertainment on the premises were appropriate and justified".

The officers presented 'advice' for this meeting, that really gave the members no other choice but to confirm this. They state: "By applying the relevant licensing legislation the council has imposed conditions and restrictions on Mr Gall's rights (of freedom of expression), that are legal, necessary and proportionate in the interests of public safety, control of nuisance and the prevention of crime and disorder.

They admit that no public complaint was ever received about the session and no additional safety, noise, or crime measures were required to enable the granting of the PEL. In other words everyone was just as safe before this action as they now are with a PEL and there were clearly never any grounds for preventing for six months, my right of freedom of expression contained in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights?


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 31 Aug 01 - 05:47 PM

It is complicated I accept but here are a few points of principle........

I refuse to accept that customers of all ages, sex, race or religion making unpaid music together, for the sheer joy of doing so in a public house, where the interests of the public are already assured by existing legislation, can or should be prevented.

 In this activity the public's freedom of expression is guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

 Where the licensee has given permission for their customers to traditionally make music or sing, there is no additional issue of noise, nuisance or public safety, that is not already more than adequately covered by other existing legislation.

 If a public house's maximum capacity is not exceeded, and all of those customers were to sing, would this activity alone make them unsafe? …..It would however make it illegal, according to WPBC policy.

 This policy is that members of the public making music are performers and where there are more than two people singing along, this activity is illegal, without a Public Entertainment Licence.

 Case law has not established that members of the public are performers but WPBC's policy has.

 Further that traditional activities like Morris Dancing, taking place on private or land belonging to a public house, will also be illegal without this licence.

 I strongly request that Weymouth and Portland Council Borough urgently re-examine both the legality and wisdom of this policy also to establish if this policy has been made in the best interests of all the visitors and residents of Weymouth and Portland?

Roger Gall.

If you agree with the above, it may help if you copy some of all of it, add your own comments and send them to The Director of Tourism, Council Offices, North Quay, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8TA.

ianlocke@wpbc.weymouth.gov.uk

Copied to the local paper letters@dorsetecho.co.uk Many thanks......


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 31 Aug 01 - 05:58 PM

Weymouth And Portland Borough Council. The council can be contacted from this link.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Gareth
Date: 31 Aug 01 - 06:07 PM

Roger 1 and Roger Two -

Will do but not tonite cos I'am well lubricated.

Est Delv Sunday PM

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 01 Sep 01 - 12:23 PM

The Chief Ececutive's position.

31 August 2001 Dear Mr Gall

Thank you for coming to see Sue Allen and myself last week. I am sure it is helpful for all of us to be able to put names and faces together. I think we can probably agree that our exchange of views demonstrated that nobody at the council is trying to be unreasonable. I'm also sure we can agree that the meeting reinforced my view that there is scope to pool our efforts to try to influence changes in the law.

It seems to me that at the heart of you line of argument and comments, is that the Council has some discretion; in turn, exercising that discretion requires a policy and hence, it is the policy pursued by the Council you wish to see altered. As you know the Council's view has always been that it is a matter of law, not policy as such.

We explored this matter in some depth and I think the key issues surround what is entertainment, and whether the kind of events/activities hosted by the Cove House Inn, are covered by the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act of 1982. You referred to Lord Bassam's comments, and in particular, to the phrase "depending on the circumstances", and you go on to suggest this is a clear indication that it is solely up to the Council as to whether a Public Entertainment Licence (PEL) is necessary for the Cove House Inn.

As promised, I have discussed the matter further with our legal team. We all remain of the view that Lord Bassam's comments do not increase the discretion available beyond that which is already allowed for in the Council's approach. We talked at our meeting about the extremes of entertainment. At one extreme might be the one-off, unorganised "sing-song". At the other extreme, a professional, regular act. We believe the "depending on circumstances" comment of Lord Bassam recognises that the extreme of the one-off, unarranged, sing-song is such that:-

it is doubtful that those taking part are true performers, it might not qualify as entertainment, and in any event, it is so minor an activity as to render the requirement of a PEL as unreasonable.

Progressing beyond this extreme illustration, however, it is clear that the requirement for a PEL becomes more obvious. The circumstances at the Cove House Inn – whereby, very regularly (i.e. almost every week) entertainment takes place; along with support evidence of a degree of declaration of an intent for the entertainment to take place -–are very different to the minimalistic extreme of one-off, informal sing-songs. It remains the Council's view that the discretion available (i.e. interpretation of the "depending on circumstances") falls a long way short of covering the events that occur at the Cove House Inn. Hence, it is a matter of law, not policy.

We talked about the general purpose of PELs. In essence, there are two main reasons for the Act requiring PELs – to ensure public safety and protection of neighbours from intrusive noise. I should make it clear that there have never been any allegations, that we know of, that the Thursday sessions that you take part in threaten public safety, or produce obtrusive noise to neighbours. But the test under the Act - as to whether a licence is needed or not – is not whether safety or noise is an issue. The test is simply – does entertainment take place, and if so, are there exemptions, e.g. 2 or less people performing, is in support of a religious gathering, etc. We did of course discuss the definition of entertainment (and indeed, performers) but in reality, I think you would probably agree that entertainment is taking place at the Cove House Inn. It remains, therefore, our view that the Cove House Inn requires a PEL and the circumstances around the entertainment are so far removed from the informal unplanned, very occasional events, at the end of the entertainment spectrum, that we have no discretion in the matter.

I suspect that what I have written above will not come as a major surprise to you but I do hope you can acknowledge a clear justification for the Council's approach, even if you continue to disagree with it. However, I know how passionately you feel about matters and I think we would both be better served by turning our attention to our attention to the effect of the legislation, particularly bearing in mind that there does seem to be a will for Parliament to consider new legislation. This is why I made the comment in the opening paragraph that by pooling our efforts, we can try to influence changes to the law.

For example, you asserted that there are circumstances whereby landlords, when advised of the need for a PEL, have insisted that the entertainment cease. Are you able to provide real and tangible examples of landlords who have curtailed activities because of the need for a PEL? If so, this becomes real evidence that can be weighed against the positive aspects of the PEL requirements (i.e. safety/noise regulation, paid for by those hosting the entertainment). In a similar vein, you will know that at the Social and Community Meeting in June, the Council agreed to obtain views from musicians on prospective alterations to the legislation. If you, or any of the people you have contact with, are able to make comments about proposals for reforming legislation, we would be pleased to hear them.

Once we have collected all of the views, I would anticipate that we will be able to put forward an argument to the appropriate Government department, which will recognise that there is scope for improvement within the PEL system, to everyone's advantage. Perhaps you will let me know if you can help in this.

Yours sincerely

Tom Grainger Chief Executive


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 01 Sep 01 - 12:35 PM

I think that if the CE accepts that an event is not at the extreme end i.e. full blown public entertainment.

He should not class it as such and charge the full licence fee, as if it was full blown public entertainment.

But what do I know? I'm just the musician/performer he is actually talking about.

What do you think?


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 01 Sep 01 - 12:46 PM

I think they have had enough and want the publicity to stop. What does your MP think Shambles, supportive or not?


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 01 Sep 01 - 12:59 PM

Yes but. It is a bit too early to say. The last one's excuse was that his party were not in power...

He has written to the Culture Minister. He said today that he accepts that the Minister did not answer the question and he will ask again.

Locally, he is going to speak to The Chief Executive, as I was able to show the above letter to him, this morning.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: GUEST,session
Date: 01 Sep 01 - 02:11 PM

I am going to go for the traditional culture and social exclusion angle DCMS , the pubs I know of are in the poorer inner city areas and are like community centres.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 02 Sep 01 - 02:24 AM

See also UK Folkies and the law which possibly is a better title for the issue generally?


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 06:16 PM

I've just started yet another threadwith a song about all thgis

That letter Shambles posted from the council - two points:

1)It fails completely to touch on whether, even if their interpretation of the law in question and of their obligations is correct, that is consistent with their duty not to offend against human rights obligations. That legal article that Richard Bridge somewhere said he'd got permission to post might be relevant here.

2)That sentence where it says "exemptions, e.g. ...in support of a religious gathering". I don't think that's what the law says - the exemption, I think, is for services as such. "In support of" could on the face of it mean that, if in the course of a session someone read out a list of times of local church services, it'd be covered by the exemption. I wonder if this is their way of trying to find a loophole that will mean they can avoid coming down heavy on carol singers, and yet pretend they are being consistent?


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 07:13 PM

I have discovered that the important issues are the ones that they leave out of their letters. Mr Grainger's letter above being a fine example. For I was at this meeting

02/09/01

Dear Mr Grainger

Thank you for your letter 31/08/01 re our meeting 23/08/01.

I will not reply here to the issues you chose to try and justify, I would prefer to reply in full.
I will wait until all of the issues we discussed at this meeting are recorded, addressed and justified. The failure to do this in your reply, is yet another example of why this meeting had to take place under the council's complaint procedure and after my insistence that it did. Please advise your response, clarification and clear justification of the following. If you are not prepared to, or cannot do this, please change your unjustifiable policy, that members of the public are performers?

1. In the respect of your interpretation that members of the public are performers, I mentioned Brearley v Morely (1899) at the meeting. This case has been mentioned before, but without response from the council. It does not appear to support the council's interpretation. I asked again at the meeting, and you indicated, that you would look at this case, and come back to me?

2. There is no mention of any proposed solution the current local problem, how you propose to deal with future sessions and the other identical, long-running and current weekly music session, without risking its future? I have mentioned this event before and again at the meeting. I am interested in how you can claim to be operating a fair licensing system and treat people equally, by continuing to ignore this event. Or is it, lack of resources that prevent the operation of this 'fair' system? If so, then perhaps these resources should be provided?

3. I requested at the meeting that the equally important part of Lord Bassam's comments be seriously addressed. In the light of your insistence on members of the public being considered as performers, that: "Ultimately, the compatibility of this provision with the European Convention on Human Rights would be a matter for the courts to determine".

The musician's freedom of expression has been prevented at the Cove House Inn, where there were clearly no grounds to do so, by the council's policy and interpretation of licensing legislation alone. The musicians were unable to obtain the PEL. Without which the council would not permit, the musician's freedom of expression, of important cultural traditional music, guaranteed under Article 10. The additional clear justification of why you consider your stretched interpretation of this particular licensing legislation to be more important than the musician's rights under Article 10 and of the qualification, with which you are demonstrating to prevent this free expression, will be most welcome, if not a little overdue?

4. Also there is no mention of our discussions re Morris dancing? This consists of a set group of performers (more than two), rehearsed, dressed and under a clear obligation to perform a set list of formal dances and tunes. Maybe be you could explain how a clear public entertainment i.e. a regular and advertised singing and dancing event, when taking place on private or pub land can be enabled without the premises holding a PEL?

For a participatory session of pub customers informally making music, also advertised and regular but far more resembling a rehearsal than a performance, will require the premises to hold one and be prevented, if they do not?

No so important, I accept but significant, in its own way, there was still no mention or confirmation of your proposed folk festival for the 10 May to the 13 May, to which you were unaware of, at the time of the meeting?


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Gareth
Date: 04 Sep 01 - 06:41 PM

Shambles.

I doubt if you will get a reply from the "Chief Jobsworth"

As I've saif before - Go for the Councillors !

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Sep 01 - 08:15 PM

His letter to me and mine to him are both addressed to a third party, as we both know this exchange is going to go to the Local Government Ombudsman or the District Auditor. I suspect he will answer my letter..I may not like the answer however, but I do still live in hope.

I do take your point, the elected members have been compromised into endorsing the Council worker's actions and should be informed of this.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 05 Sep 01 - 12:52 PM

I have to let someone know what they can do to help. If they only do one thing what do you suggest would be the most effective?


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Sep 01 - 04:04 PM

The most effective thing at present would be to find a council somewhere where there has been a formal policy decision to interpret the existing law in a way that is favourable to sessions.

Also to identify specific instances where sessions and other folk (or other) activities have been closed down because of pressure over PELs.

For lobbying writing to an MP is probably the most effective single thing to do, because they typically send the letter on to the department concerned, and they run around like headless chickens getting an answer together. Sending a copy of the letter to the MP to local press and to local council is a good idea too, with a note at the bottom indicating that you are doing this. This is a way of bringing it into public, and making it more likely that the MP will pull his or her finger out.

Every little helps. MPs who have had lobbying letters are more likely to sign an early day motion when it gets tabled by some sympathiser in the House of Commons.

The thing is, there's no real advantage to anyone in messing us about like this.

Oh, and people from outside Britain, especially Americans, the best single thing might be to write to the tourism section in Weymouth, or wherever, saying this is putting you off the idea of coming for a trip to Britain or Weymouth in particular. (It's not that Weymouth is uniquely bad, but at least with them you can be fairly sure now there are people there who have some understanding of the issue, and they are probably getting a little nervous. I would think there is a real possibility they could decide to actually push for a change in the law.)


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 Sep 01 - 06:25 PM

The Political Party season is nearly on us. The MPs will be gathering, so this is an opportunity to try and get them to act together.

In fairness to councils, who do at least try not to prevent Morris dancing, mainly because they have some idea of what they are. Councils do not know what sessions and informal traditional musical gatherings are.........

The problem is made worse because generally people in the UK, who take part in them, do not wish to inform them, for fear of their sessions being prevented.

For councils to act sensibly, they must be made aware of the problem and the real size of it.

This is especially true of the new legislation, which will not be in force for a few years yet. Our voice must be heard, now under current legislation and to ensure that the new, is not even worse...........

If there is one thing that we can all do is to stop hiding and stand up for the music we love, and urge others to do the same.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 06 Sep 01 - 04:39 PM

So far I have avoided going in a few pubs. In case anyone knows its me stirring up trouble. And also in case I have a few falling outs with people I have emailed for help on this...........the ones (99%) who didn't even bother to reply. Which reminds me my MP has been to busy to reply too.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Gareth
Date: 06 Sep 01 - 07:03 PM

Roger et all - take it from me yer average MP is knee deep in letters, and that excludes the ones written in green ink.

I'am a bit knakkered tonite, and tommorrow I have a beer or so with our local MP when, after more pressing problems I have no doubt Section 182 will be discussed.

BTW I hope to have the latest Darset Echo letters page on the net by noon BST Saturday

Gareth.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Sep 01 - 07:25 PM

Here's a site I made that makes writing to your MP a doddle: FaxYourMP.com - it doesn't even cost a postage stamps. An the fax looks lovely and efficient, with no green ink at all.

Sending an MP a letter isn't in itself too likely to achieve much in most cases. But it might just nudge them into taking an interest in some cases, so why not do it? Somewhere out there, maybe there's is a bored backbencher with a dusty guitar in his attic, who is looking around for a cause that's a little bit different, which might get him or her a bit of press attention.

I used to work in an office where there were always meetings. People would sit there silent and even smiling -then coming out you'd hear them muttering about all kinds of things they were angry about - and they'd been sitting there without ever making an effort to bring them up. Unwillingness to make waves the English disease, (Hence the Aussie expression whinging Poms, I believe, meaning whining and cringing at the same time.)


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 07 Sep 01 - 02:45 AM

The Political Parties will gathering next month, in their conference towns. MPs will be together, why not get them talking together, about the problems for sessions.

Why organise a session in these towns, to demonstrate and bring attention to the problem?


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Sep 01 - 06:54 AM

Why not indeed? (Which I think is what you meant to say Shambles...)

Well, the LibDems are having theirs just up the road from Weymouth, in Bournemouth 23-27th Sept.

Then the Labour Party have theirs in Brighton 30th September to 4th October,

And the Tories have theirs in Blackpool 8-11 - but that might be a bit like intruding on private grief. And their support might not be too helpful at this point in history, some might say, even if we could get it...

So the rule seems to be that the "major parties" have to have their conferences in seaside resorts beginning with B.

However the Greens do it differently, and have theirs in Salisbury, Wilts on 13th to 16th September. And that might be the one most receptive to this kind of concern.

Most of those places have a fairly active localish folk scene I'd have thought. So if anyone feels like planning anything, post it here. Could be fun. You could be the only interesting and enjoyable thing happening.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Sep 01 - 07:23 AM

Here is the link for the Lib Dems

And here are the Greens


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 07 Sep 01 - 08:39 AM

Gareth its not my MP thats the problem, he has a secretary (in the mould of a doctors receptionist) who decides if letters are important enough for my MPs personal attention !


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Sep 01 - 07:09 AM

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council

Copied to the local paper. letters@dorsetecho.co.uk

To all UK Folkies who may (understandably) not wish their own councils to pay their events, the same attention and are reluctant to get involved.

Would you please join with the many UK folkies who have, and in particlar with those overseas to help win this BATTLE here in Weymouth and Portland?

We did not choose to fight this battle but we cannot afford to loose it.

A victory here will ensure that a clear signal will go out to all local authorities and make it impossible for similar action to ever take place again.

We have lost too many fine events already and cannot afford to loose here, as this will mean that the situation will continue..........THERE WILL NEVER BE A BETTER OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE THIS AND SEND A VERY CLEAR MESSAGE.

The message that they are currently receiving is that they can do exactly as they please and the vast majority of people, UK folkies, directly affected and who should care, do not care enough to stop them...........

PLEASE HELP!


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Gareth
Date: 08 Sep 01 - 08:21 AM

And here on the WEB are the last 3 editions letters pages of the Dorset Echo

Click Here

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Gareth
Date: 09 Sep 01 - 09:18 AM

At the risk of boreing catters to tears the problems of interpretation of the Public Entertainment Licencese have now attracted the attention of "Stage" weekly news paper.

All press coverage can be found here.

PRESS COVERAGE

Iam sorry if they take a little time to load but much of this is JPG files.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Gareth
Date: 09 Sep 01 - 01:56 PM

Attention - since posting the above link I have had a few complaints that the above links don't always work.

Now as I am "piggybacking" these pages using spare capacity on the particular site, and am trying to expand so that there are cross links and an index to bring all relavent details to one place could I ask catters to PM me if there are any difficulties in getting through. Details as to error mesages and the name and version of your browser would help. Confidentiality is assured.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 09 Sep 01 - 02:25 PM

Gareth if its just me then ignore it, the weymouth site just crashed my browser too, so it looks like the problems this end


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Gareth
Date: 09 Sep 01 - 06:24 PM

Roger !

*&^%$ $£"!* !!"£$£$ $%^& "£$%^%^& (Explitives deleted)

Do you know how much time and effort that posting cost me re checking my HTML !!!!

No, it's not just you - I use "Hotmetal" as my HTML editor, I've now found, thanks to your post, that some versions of IE don't like "Hotmetal" - and if you've spotted where I'am "piggy backing" from you've done us all here in Caerphilly a bl**dy big favour.

The main site runs off "Hotmetal" too !

Gareth (With a very big grin !!)


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Sep 01 - 06:57 PM

Roger in Sheffield - if you arfe sure that is happening, I'd suggest a letter addressed to the MP addressed as Personal, with a covering letter complaining about the secretary. That would have to get through. (Though in practice I wopuld suspoect that if the secretary is stopping letters getting through it is beacsue she or he has been asked to do so by the MP.

Keeping tracks on all these PEL threads going in parallel is getting tricky. I think some housework is required to simplify things.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 01:07 PM

Feedback on The Stage articles will be welcomed

Letters Editor
The Stage Newspaper
47 Bermondsey Street
London
SE1 3XT

Or people can e-mail editorial_listings@thestage.co.uk
or fax on 020 7357 9287

feedback would be great!


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 12 Sep 01 - 05:36 PM

It looks that we will be having some local TV coverage?


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Sep 01 - 07:09 AM

Well, all this has been a bit blown out of the water by other goings on.

However I've just had a letter back from my MP, Bill Rammell, following on the letter I sent him via Fax your MP. An acknowledgement, but an encouraging one, since Bill actually appears to understand the issues involved.

"I have written to the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions about this matter...I will be in touch again when I receive a reply.

"In the meantime, if I can be of further assistance, with this or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact me."

With a PS "Before I was an MP I was a University Manager and held various licenses including PELs. I agree the procedure is overly complex and restrictive. I will look at the minister's response with interest"

And in his letter to the department, with which he sent him a copy of the letter I sent him, Bill says:

"Mr McGrath raises a concern about the law which he says discriminates against people who wish to meet and make music or sing in public places such as cafes or public houses, need a Public Entertainment Licence.

"I would welcome your thoughts on this matter and look forward to receiving a reply in a format I can forward to my constituent."

And he sent this to Dr Alan Whitehead, The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department Transport, Local Government and the Regions, Eland House, Bressendon Place, London SW1E 5DU.

And here was the fax I sent him:

Thursday 6 September 2001

Dear Mr Bill Rammell,
I am writing to ask you to do what you can to end the situation in which the law discriminates against people who wish to meet and make music or sing in public places, such as cafes or public houses, by requiring that Public Entertainment Licences should be obtained.

Traditionally this kind of social activity has always happened, folk musicians meeting for sessions, Trad jazz played in the bar, singing round the piano. This has rightly been recognised in practice as a form of social activity, no different in principle from people playing darts matches or talking about football when they meet together.

However many councils appear to be interpreting their obligations under the 1982 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act as requiring that they treat people taking part in such activities as taking part in a public entertainment performance. This means a PEL must be obtained.

In the case of public houses there is an exemption, if there are only two performers. This means that if a third person joins in singing the chorus, for example, the exemption ceases to apply. In the case of anybody singing or playing in any other public place, such as a cafe, there is no exemption even for a single 'performer'.

This is clearly absurd, and is also in clear breach of Section 10 of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees our right to expression.

Like many absurd laws its impact is mitigated by the fact that sensible local authorities apply them with discretion. However this does not always apply, and there have been a number of recent cases where the law has been applied in a way that has been oppressive.

I enjoy taking part in a number of such folk music sessions in pubs within the surrounding area. One of them was a monthly session in the Welsh Harp in Waltham Abbey, next to the Abbey Church. It was, rather unusually, devoted primarily to English tunes (rather than Irish or Scots or American etc - though in practice all kinds of music would end up being played). We played the music, quite a few of the regulars tended to sit over by the TV and watch the match. We were there primarily to entertain each other, not to entertain an audience, and we were not paid.

However this session ceased a few month ago, because the local council insisted that it could not continue without a Public Entertainment Licence being obtained. In common with 95% of pubs in this country, the Welsh Harp did not have such a licence. Reasonably enough the landlord did not see it worth while to go to the trouble and not insignificant expense involved in obtaining one, just for out benefit.

This is just an example which happens to have happened locally. Elsewhere in the country there have been cases where a publican was fined for allowing people to join in singing happy birthday when the two exempted performers struck up the tune. In Weymouth when a pub obtained a PEL it prohibited it from allowing Morris Dancers to perform there except on one day.

For far more information about this than I can give you here, I suggest that you have a look through this web site about 'Session Harassment' -
http://www.freenetpages.co.uk/hp/trg/SCoFF/session.htm#july2001 or this one by the Campaign for Live Music, http://www.tradmusic.net/calm.html

There are many other injustices in the world which are more pressing. But it does represent a real injustice, and is stops people enjoying themselves in a harmless and beneficial activity.

Moreover, since the issue is now fairly actively discussed, especially among people who value folk music and traditional music and dance, both in this country and abroad, and it is also starting to affect tourism, and I anticipate that this could rapidly mushroom.

Through the Internet I know that Americans who enjoy folk music are starting to cross England off their list for holidays. After all, this kind of restriction doesn't exist in many other countries, and would not be tolerated. And people have said that going to a country where this kind of restriction is in existence is distasteful in itself.

Moreover this whole thing is damaging to our dignity as a nation, and to our ability to preserve and regenerate our popular traditions. It is cultural vandalism. And it seems that nobody in politics cares about it.

Yours sincerely,
Kevin McGrath


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Sep 01 - 07:25 AM

Thanks for posting that Kevin,

Just a small point, but putting so much in italics makes it quite hard to read.

I can read the bits in 'normal' type about quite as quickly as the italicised parts.

if you want to differentiate parts of you message (particularly in longer posts), try using the Verdana font - probably the easiest to read from a screen


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Sep 01 - 08:20 AM

Verdana font? Presumably there's an HTML code form it, but I don't know it.

I find the Italic as easy to read as the Roman, unless maybe the text size is set very small.At medium (with Internet Explorer), it seems fine.

I like to print quotes in a different font, because that makes it easier to show when I'm quoting. If there's an alternative font I can use which is more legible than Italic, I'll likely use that instead. (Breaking my rule about ignoring GUESTs without handles, very exceptionally, and without in any way withdrawing my serious objections to that anti-social practice.)


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Snuffy
Date: 28 Sep 01 - 04:14 PM

If you put <BLOCKQUOTE> at the start and </BLOCKQUOTE> at the end of the quoted sections, it insets the passage, like this (I hope):

"In the meantime, if I can be of further assistance, with this or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact me."

Wassail! v


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Sep 01 - 03:40 AM

I will place the latest from Mr Grainger here, as this thread has 'popped'

If you wish to respond to any of the points he makes, he can be contacted here Wymouth and Portland Borough Council

25 September 2001

Dear Mr Gall

I am writing further to you letter of 2 September 2001, and your subsequent telephone calls to my personal assistant and myself. I have to say I am very disappointed in the contents of your letter. We are obviously going nowhere, as you continue to argue that the Council has an incorrect interpretation of the law, despite the very full response I gave to you at out meeting, and summarised in my letter of 31 August.

I cannot be any clearer about our view on this matter, than repeat to you Paragraph 1 and 2 of Schedule 1 to the Local government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1982.

The events at the Cove House Inn clearly fall within this definition and it is this council's view that there are no specific exemptions under the 1964 Licensing Act that render the requirement for a licence unnecessary. Various people, including you suggest that the Brearly-v-Morley case of 1899 means that the public are not performers. The circumstances in which the entertainment takes place at the Cove House Inn are quite different from those in that case, and in our view, make such an interpretation implausible.

As you know, Mr Birchall has also raised particular questions about the definition of performers. Mr Locke will respond to Mr Birchall and I will ensure you receive a copy of that reply. Once I have supplied a copy of Mr Lockes's reply to you, I do not propose to keep corresponding on arguments of law. I acknowledge that you have a different interpretation. That is your right, but ultimately, only the courts can decide and I would not wish any party to waste money unnecessarily. I have set out many times justification for our stance and I have no intention of repeating it again in the future. In any event, the princple paties involved are the licensee of the Cove House Inn and the Council, and I am not aware that either of these parties is looking for the matter to be taken further.

As far as the other issues you mention in your letter are concerned, these can be dealt with very simply.

Your paragraph 2- Other Music Sessions

We explained that enforcement is both proactive and reactive. We react to comments or complaints made about establishments and from time to time, visit other premises unannounced. However, random visits to check unlicensed premises are a relatively low priority for staff and it is, of course, possible that some entertainment is taking place without a PEL being in place. The responsibility for complying with the law is the licensee's not the entertainer's or the council's.

Your paragraph 3-Human Rights Act

We have responded to you on this matter previously. As you know, the human rights act does not override other legislation, but clearly is a material consideration. Our view remains that your human rights have not been infringed-and there is pretty clear evidence of this by the fact that you continue to operate at the Cove House Inn most Thursdays. As you say, ultimately only the courts can determine whether, in law any rights have been infringed. If you think they have, it is for you to seek your own legal advice and consider the options put to you by that legal advisor.

Your paragraph 4-Morris Dancing

As you know, Morris dancing has never been an issue that we have been asked to investigate. I have no intention of responding to hypothetical situations. If you would like to set out the circumstances in which any event, or series of events, such as Morris Dancing, are actually being undertaken, we will investigate further, and advise the people hosting the event whether a PEL is necessary. Of course, if Morris Dancing is taking place at the Cove House Inn, this would not be an issue, since the Cove House Inn has a PEL.

You also raised further matters in your telephone conversations. You specifically raised with me the nature of 'enforcement' action undertaken by my staff. There is clearly an obligation for specific procedures to be followed if enforcement action is to be taken. No enforcement action has been taken in relation to the Cove House Inn – informal observations were made and advice provided to the landlord on the basis of those observations. I remain satisfied that the Council's staff have behaved in accordance with the requirements of the law and good practice throughout the past nine months. If you continue to believe otherwise, I think you should take your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.

Subsequently, you suggested to my Secretary that incorrect advice had been given in a letter sent from this council. In fact, the reply given in an e-mail confirmed that as of 10th September, the Cove House Inn has a Public Entertainment Licence. The local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 covers this provision and the reply is correct.

In concluding. I need to make a further remark. I do not believe, nor can I accept, that the campaign in various publications and websites that you helped launch, is at all helpful to Weymouth and Portland in general, or more specifically, the music and performing arts scene in Weymouth and Portland. At times it has been outrageously irresponsible – e.g. suggestions such as Morris Dancing being banned. The fact that you neither like the present law nor accept the interpretation of every Licensing Authority in the country (including Weymouth and Portland) does not excuse such an approach. The bigger prize remains a change in the law to overcome any difficulties and anomalies you can identfy. It is for this reason the Council is interested in hearing if and how the present legislation is impacting on musicians. A report will be made to the social and community committee of the Council, outlining the evidence and views we gather and it will then be up to Councillors to decide whether they wish to lobby for a change in the law. If you or your colleagues have such evidence, I would be interested in receiving it.

Yours sincerely


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Sep 01 - 04:29 AM

Kevin,

Start the quote with<font face="Verdana"> and end the quote with </font>

The output will look like this

Sorry for the thread drift


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Sep 01 - 08:29 AM

Sounds like Shambles is getting through to him. I love that "I have to say I am very disappointed in the contents of your letter. We are obviously going nowhere..."

Sounds like an exasperated headmaster to a stroppy fifth former.

In a PM to Shambles I have suggested that: I think that with Christmas rushing up would be timely to seek clarification as to whether carol singers in public places, such as doorsteps, are required to have PELs. And if not on what grounds does Weymouth feel able to waive the law in such cases in light of their claim that they are not allowed to have any discretion in such matters?

And also it sounds from the letter that he isn't aware that (if I understand the situation correctly) the PEL at The Cove means that the pub would be restricted from having Morris Dancers more than on one occasion in the year - and once again, woith Christmas coming up, any kind of Mummers would clearly be illegal.

I suppose the letter back could ask him to confirm that since the suggestion that Morris Dancing is being restricted is "outrageous" it is correct to undserstand that there are no such restrictions in place.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Sep 01 - 09:57 AM

If the licensee is correct, when I asked him to produce a valid PEL and he could not (and I think this is the test), the PEL has expired and all inside or outdoor performances of music and dancing are illegal.

If the Chief Executive and the Director of Tourism are correct, when they state that the PEL is valid (despite referring to the application for a new one). Morris Dancing could legally take place inside the rather small pub, but as all outside entertainment except for one day a year is not permitted by the conditions imposed on this PEL, outside Morris, would only be permitted on this one day.

Which ever is correct, there is certainly a restriction for regular and advertised Morris Dancing.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Sep 01 - 05:36 PM

So essentially the allegation, while outrageous, is completely accurate... That could be a line from a Savoy OIpera.

I think the whole situation cries out for a Gilbert and Sullivan treatment.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Gareth
Date: 29 Sep 01 - 06:27 PM

No Kevin - Sounds more like the Chorus of the Vicar of Bray.

Vicar of Bray

Incidently those Catters who want to see the press coverage Click here Not much change but some salient points in the stage - Hit clikck 2 above then the stage.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Sep 01 - 07:55 PM

I suppose if I were stopped by a policeman and asked to produce my driving licence, he may expect me to produce it and may suspect that I did not have one, if I failed to produce it.

Of course driving licenses are not issued by local athorities, who appear to see it differently?

I wonder if they would be quite so understanding if they wished the licensee to produce a licence he claimed to have?


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 30 Sep 01 - 08:42 AM

Q: Who needs a public entertainment licence (PEL)?
A: Anyone organising any public performance of live music virtually anywhere. Without first obtaining a PEL from their local authority they could face a criminal prosecution. Venues affected could include village halls, schools, hospitals, libraries etc etc.

Q: Does that mean even a piano recital in your own home could be illegal?
A: Yes, if the public were invited to attend.

Q: What is the penalty?
A: Unlicensed live music is a criminal offence. The maximum penalty is a £20,000 fine and six months in prison.

Q: Are there any exemptions allowed?
A: Yes: 1) performances when part of a religious service in a recognised place of worship; 2) performances on Crown land; and 3) performances by up to two performers in on-licensed premises (bars, restaurants etc).

Q: I play a guitar in my local pub, and use backing tapes. That's OK isn't it?
A: No. Combining even one live musician with any form of 'recorded sound' is illegal without a PEL. The term 'recorded sound' would also include minidisc. Even MIDI is being counted as 'recorded sound' by some local authorities.

Q: How many pubs, bars etc have PELs?
A: There are about 111,000 on-licensed premises in England and Wales, including all pubs. Only 5% actually hold annual PELs.

Q: Do members of the public count as 'performers' if they participate by singing along during a pub gig?
A: Yes, many local authorities interpret the law in this way. They cite case law precedent from 1793 to support this position.

Q: Does that mean more than two people singing could be a criminal offence in over 100,000 pubs, bars and restaurants?
A: For the licensee - yes.

Q: What if I organised a gig with one musician and invited different singers to 'do a turn'. Provided only two were performing at any one time, would that be OK?
A: Not according to London borough councils. They argue that only the same two performers should be allowed throughout the course of an evening.

Q: Does a pub need a PEL for any form of recorded sound or satellite television?
A: No - provided no live musicians play at the same time.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: GUEST,ruth@wombat68@fsmail
Date: 29 Oct 01 - 10:45 AM

Have read several of these but am quite unable to find the original problem. Makes it all rather surreal.


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 29 Oct 01 - 01:00 PM

Guest ruth it is very surreal
Tonight at the pub I will play some quiet acoustic music, if someone plays along thats OK, but if two people play along then the landlord will require a license from the council!
The purpose of the license is ensure that the premises have been checked for safety and noise concerns
Which suggests that any other pub can be extremely noisy and dangerous for the public just so long as not more than two people sing/play music???
It seems that the rule makers cannot understand the nature of a music session. Sessions are where singers and musicians go to sing and play music together. They don't attract any sizeable audience and so aren't money making entertainment for the pub. So the PEL rules act like a tax on landlords who allow sessions in their pubs. Which is why most of the hundreds of people who play in UK pub sessions keep quiet on this subject lest their session be stopped by the PEL tax. Many UK Mudcatters play in pub sessions but prefer not to defend their right to do so


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Subject: RE: Write an Email for Shambles? Part 2
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Oct 01 - 05:36 PM

This is the background.

When the current licensees took over the Cove, my wife and I performed there as conventional paid public entertainment. As a result the Friday night became a regular night for this.

As long as the two-performer aspect was kept to, a Public Entertainment Licence was not required as the Section 182 exemption (the so-called two-in a bar rule) applied.

Another pub has held a regular sing-around for about 5 years now, without a Public Entertainment Licence. This is not a conventional public entertainment. The musicians are unpaid customers just making traditional song for their own entertainment, with the permission of the licensee.

The licensee of The Cove had visited this sing-around with me and would have liked to have a similar thing in their pub but did not want to take away any customers from this establishment.

This original session became busy and there was a conflict between songs and tunes. We thought that a session on another night of the week, for tunes only would solve a number of problems. We needed to advertise that it was for tunes only.

In our naivety we did not dream that the licensing authority would class customers providing their own traditional music, as performers for the sole purpose of preventing it.

I advertised for participants for the first night 07/12/00, in our local paper, the licensing manager saw this, wrongly assumed that the licensee had place it and was staging a public entertainment.

The premises were visited the next day 08/12/00 and the licensee was threatened, even though at this point, the event had not been witnessed to ascertain how many musicians were involved.

When it was witnessed they saw what they wanted to see, a public entertainment with more than two performers. They did not bother to speak to any of the musicians. A letter was issued warning that the licensee faced a possible £20,000 fine or a six month prison sentence if it continued.

When I heard of this action I stopped the single advert in the local paper. I contacted the licensing dept and explained. It would be fair to say that they did not really consider it to be any of my business but a matter only between them and the licensee.

Despite the council's other obligations, all they appeared to be concerned about was that it was unfair on the pubs that had PELs. The original event has not received any attention from our officials and continues.

Events of this nature usually stop at this point, the licensee being unwilling to pay for the cost of a PEL. The session struggled on as a private party, attempting to exclude the public as in this case the licensee did apply for a PEL on 01/02/01.

The PEL was eventually granted on 16/05/01 but with conditions that were not decided by councillors, in the public hearing scheduled for this on 09/05/01. This hearing being cancelled at the very last moment, by the officers, and the conditions applied in private.

These conditions preventing any outside entertainment from taking place except once every August. I have established that this includes Morris dancing on land belonging to the premises. Far from enabling it the PEL has resulted in this traditional activity at the pub being prevented and made the public less safe.

I did not feel that the elected members and the public would be happy with this and requested that the policy and the future of traditional music locally, be decided by a meeting of the elected members.

Eventually on 05/06/01 a meeting of the Social and Community Committee were recommended to "confirm that steps taken by Licensing Officers to encourage an application from the proprietor of The Cove House Inn., Portland for a licence permitting public entertainment on the premises were appropriate and justified".

The officers presented 'advice' for this meeting, that really gave the members no other choice but to confirm this. They state: "By applying the relevant licensing legislation the council has imposed conditions and restrictions on Mr Gall's rights (of freedom of expression), that are legal, necessary and proportionate in the interests of public safety, control of nuisance and the prevention of crime and disorder.

They admit that no public complaint was ever received about the session and no additional safety, noise, or crime measures were required to enable the granting of the PEL.

In other words everyone was just as safe before this action as they were with a PEL and there were clearly never any grounds for preventing, from 08/12/00 to 16/0501, the right of freedom of expression contained in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights?


Paid for and issued on 16/05/01 the application for renewal needed to be made and paid for again on 02/06/0 as the PEL was valid only until 30/06/01. As all they all are, apparently.

An application for renewal and revision was made, even though there was nothing to renew and the public notice appeared in the local paper on 08/08/01.

The officers have stated that the PEL was valid as of 10/09/01. Ignoring their own rules and the law, deciding to do and say exactly what they want as usual. The members appear to accept this.

Mr Grainger stating on 24/10/01: Clearly therefore the phrase' a valid PEL is held' is not correct. I apologise if you were misled on this matter of law. I do have to say however that our view remains that it is a technicality, which has no impact on the ability of the Cove House Inn to carry on providing the type of entertainment permitted by the 'old PEL, pending consideration of the new application.

Since the officer's first visit 08/12/00 to date, The licensee has paid for two PELs and the Cove House Inn has only had a valid PEL for six weeks!

From 08/12/00 to 16/05/01: The officers maintain that premises were unsafe for 'entertainment', without a PEL, under the law.

From 16/05/01 to 30/06/01
: The premises were considered safe although no additional safety measures were introduced to enable the PEL to be issued. This was to expire 30/06/01.

From 30/06/01 to date. The premises were unsafe for 'entertainment', without a PEL, under the law. The officers now choose to ignore the very law that they claim made their actions "legal, necessary and proportionate in the interests of public safety, control of nuisance and the prevention of crime"

.

Where the provisions apply it is a requirement to have a licence and not something on which we have any discretion. Mr Locke in his letter to Ian Bruce MP 22/03/01

The officers claimed the council would be challenged for not enforcing this law.

The local paper for 25/10/01, clearly states a trio will be performing at the Cove House Inn. The officer's will no doubt ignore this advert, Mr Locke's view considered more important than the law?


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