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BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE

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vectis 27 Feb 02 - 08:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Feb 02 - 08:34 PM
Teribus 28 Feb 02 - 02:45 AM
The Shambles 28 Feb 02 - 05:11 AM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Feb 02 - 07:17 AM
alanww 28 Feb 02 - 12:55 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Feb 02 - 01:20 PM
vectis 28 Feb 02 - 04:37 PM
Mr Red 28 Feb 02 - 06:02 PM
Mr Red 28 Feb 02 - 06:08 PM
GUEST 01 Mar 02 - 07:26 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Mar 02 - 07:34 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Mar 02 - 07:44 AM
The Shambles 01 Mar 02 - 08:03 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Mar 02 - 01:29 PM
The Shambles 01 Mar 02 - 02:53 PM
Gareth 01 Mar 02 - 02:54 PM
The Shambles 01 Mar 02 - 03:17 PM

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Subject: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: vectis
Date: 27 Feb 02 - 08:00 PM

I have just got this and sent my letter off.
Please, as many of you as can, send to your MP as well

Dear All

Firstly, apologies for sending this round-robin email - please accept the impersonal nature of this. The 'Two in a Bar' rule was enforced by an appeal court last week, making it illegal for more than 2 people to sing in a bar on any one occasion. The maximum penalty is a fine of £20,000 and a 6 month prison sentence - unbelievable.

The ruling was such that anyone joining in with impromptu music in a pub session or club is deemed to be a 'performer' - so more than one person joining in with a chorus song is against the law! To try and overturn this nonsense, folkies and friends of folkies everywhere are being asked to contact their MP now ... keep reading, it's easy.

Below is a quote from Hamish Birchall of CaLM, the live music campaign in Camden, which is self-explanatory. If you can spare a few minutes to send an email/fax to your MP using the link below, you might help the folk tradition remain a living tradition. It would be helpful if you would re-word the standard letter though, as many MPs ignore numerous copies of a 'standard' letter.

It is vital that as many MPs as possible contribute to the Parliamentary debate tomorrow (27th) on reform of public entertainment licensing. The

more MPs that participate the more likely it is that the debate will be reported in the press and on television. Media coverage is essential to raise public awareness and to convince the Government that this issue cannot be ignored.

You can fax your MP quickly and easily from the web via this very useful free service:
www.faxyourmp.com

Here is a suggested draft text to adapt as you see fit:

Dear Sir/Madam

Tomorrow (27 Feb) David Heath MP will lead an adjournment debate in the Commons on reform of public entertainment licensing. This legislation regulates public access to live music and dance throughout England and Wales. But the law is in a mess. Its draconian interpretation and enforcement by local authorities threatens to kill off any form of spontaneous music and dance.

In a traditionally liberal and tolerant democracy it may be difficult to accept that harmless music-making or dance is treated so harshly. But the fact is that 95% of licensees would be committing a criminal offence this evening if they allowed a trio or quartet to perform on their premises, or one person to dance. Even Morris dancing in a pub car park, or garden would be illegal. That is because only 5% licensees currently hold a public entertainment licence. The maximum penalty for unlicensed entertainment is a £20,000 fine and six months in prison.

An Appeal Court ruling last week makes the situation even worse (London Borough of Southwark v Sean Toye, Adminstrative Court, 21.2.2). Without a public entertainment licence it will now be illegal for licensees to allow one singer to replace another in a duo, or for a solo pianist to perform after a duo. Members of the public will now count as 'performers' if they sing along for their own amusement. This is undoubtedly bad law, but it is strictly enforced across the country.

What does this imply for Golden Jubilee celebrations? Will thousands of licensees face heavy fines and a jail sentence for allowing parents to dance with their children in a pub garden?

Can I ask that you participate in tomorrow's debate and encourage the Government to take immediate action.

Yours faithfully


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Subject: RE: BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Feb 02 - 08:34 PM

Here is a link to David Heath's website, with a summary of what he was going to say.

His speech was pretty good, and he did include in it references to aspects of all this that keep on getting ignored - that it is not just about restrictions on licensed premises, that it's not just about folk music, and that the restrictions hit at the right of people to make music or sing for their own enjoyment.

The government response from the minister for sport (Kim Howells is in the States "promoting tourism" which is a laugh in the circumstances) was sympathetic enough, agreeing that the present law is stupid. He didn't quite rule out there being guidelines telling councils and police not to be so stupid in enforcing the law. And he said that someday there'll be legislation, and they are still supposed to be consulting on it.

And the Weymouth MP intervened denouncing the PEL stupidities and referring to his massive correspondence, though he didn't mention The Shambles as such.

The chamber of course was virtually deserted - not more than five MPs so far as I could see (the rest were off to the bars I assume)- so I suggest that when people write to their MPS they make a point of saying that they noticed that they had not felt it important enough to grace the adjournment debate with their presence.

In the very very unlikely case where an MP might actually have been present they'll be sure to write back to say so, and you could open up a useful correspondence, since if they were present they can be assumed to be interested (unless they had fallen asleep.)

Here is a link to the list of MPs, including the few who have emails and the fewer still who have websites. And here again is the link to FaxYourMP, which is a much more efficient way to get to them than emails.

And while I'm about it, here is a link to the Hansard Search Engine, which is a great way of finding out anything they might have said about anything in the House. They can run, but they can't hide nowadays.

You know, they are going to wish they had sorted out this stuff about PELs a long time ago...


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Subject: RE: BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: Teribus
Date: 28 Feb 02 - 02:45 AM

Thanks Kevin,

Have contacted my MP - question is whether or not he bothers to turn up.

Cheers,

Bill.


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Subject: RE: BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: The Shambles
Date: 28 Feb 02 - 05:11 AM

Full account of the Commons debate 27 February 2002.

It is near the bottom as it was late last night.

A satisfacory response fom the Dept?


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Subject: RE: BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Feb 02 - 07:17 AM

Good speech. And the government response, while inadequate, was at least conciliatory, with no attempt to deny that the present law is a shambles (though maybe that's not the right word here), and that councils and police who strutted round enforcing it were acting like buffoons.

It's important that people keep on at this, because while change is probabaly going to happen sooner or later, but things could be done that reduce the damage in the meantime. The main thing however is to head them away from mistakes in the changes when they come. It is only too likely that the emphasis is going to be wholly on places with drinks licences, and on people giving performances to audiences.


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Subject: RE: BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: alanww
Date: 28 Feb 02 - 12:55 PM

That debate seemed to have got us nowhere, except to reiterate to the Government that its an issue a lot of people care about. What are the next possible political moves? Will some friendly MPs put it up as a possible private members bill?

The life of a shepherd is a life of great care ...
Alan


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Subject: RE: BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Feb 02 - 01:20 PM

The more straightforward outcome would be for a local council to take the hint it has been given in the government spokesman's reply in the House of Commons last night, and adopt a formal policy of nor enforcing the law in circumstances where to do so would be stupid.

The first council to do this will be likely to get brownie points from the government, and other councils can be expected to follow.

If it is possible to announce the suspension of arresting people for possessing cannabis in Brixton, the same can be done for inappropriate enforcement of PEL regulations.

There is no need to wait for a private member's bill or government legislation. A local council could introduce a Musician's Charter without delay. Unless all the local councils are packed with boneheaded councillors it is hard to see how one of them can fail to do precisely this.

I know there are councillors who aren't boneheaded. I suppose however that it is possible they are everywhere outnumbered by colleagues who are.


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Subject: RE: BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: vectis
Date: 28 Feb 02 - 04:37 PM

Looks promising. I await developments with interest. If we keep lobbying and writing we might even be able to get Parliament to see sense.


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Subject: RE: BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: Mr Red
Date: 28 Feb 02 - 06:02 PM

Dunnit!
FWIW I pointed to the football on TV in bars. & what MP is going to prevent football viewers singing along with the telly?
Actually my MP is very concerned and aware, but he is a back-bencher and in Stroud we have a reputation for alternative thinking. One small voice.


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Subject: RE: BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: Mr Red
Date: 28 Feb 02 - 06:08 PM

Just had a thought. There is a church in London that serves beer from a BAR. Now as licenced premises and exempt church which rule is in play?
and with the parlous finances of our fine old churches and falling congregations........... I think you are ahead of me here.
If we need a back-up plan I can think of worse. & church acoustics are designed for the job.


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Subject: RE: BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Mar 02 - 07:26 AM

Musicians' Union moto "Keep Music Live"? How can we if we're not allowed to sing in pubs etc? What about a "Day the music died" and strike - If no one played or sang for a Friday or a Saturday and got the backing of radio stations think how quiet it would be. No musac in supermarkets. No Classical concerts in London, Birmingham, Manchester.. Is there a similar law in USA?


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Subject: RE: BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Mar 02 - 07:34 AM

"If" - no music in supermarkets would be so good people would want the strike to go on for ever.

Simplest way is as I've said, a local council announces it's adopted a new policy in advance of legislation, and others follow suit.


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Subject: RE: BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Mar 02 - 07:44 AM

In fact in some cases I think it would be coming clean about a policy that they have operated in practice, but without officially acknowledging it. (Typical English way of doing it. Typically Welsh also, I'd imagine, in this case.)

It seems to me they have now had the green light inviting them to let the rest of us know.


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Subject: RE: BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: The Shambles
Date: 01 Mar 02 - 08:03 AM

Interesting then that in the minutes of our last Coucil meeting, Mr Locke claimed to the members that the view and strict enforcement policy used in Weymouth and Portland, was "standard practice"!!!


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Subject: RE: BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Mar 02 - 01:29 PM

Well, he was lying wasn't he? Or "misleading", as they say in Government circles when you are a Minister.


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Subject: RE: BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: The Shambles
Date: 01 Mar 02 - 02:53 PM

This week's new ruling effectively means that folk clubs, as we know them, taking place in 95% of premises without a Public Entertainment Licence are a thing of the past.

The two performer exemption will now require it to be the same two individuals, so no subsequent performers or floor singers will be permitted. They must now also be some question to as to the legality of members of the audience joining in with chorus songs.

Some sensible local authorities may choose not to enforce this (although it would not be safe to now rely on it), but all such clubs are now at risk.

BBC Manchester's Rob Cave is very keen to hear from all establishments and folk clubs at risk. As we need all the help we can get, could I ask you to contact him and to ask others to do the same? The more response he receives, the bigger the story and the more chance we have of influencing and pressurising those in power.

His number is 0161 244 3148.


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Subject: RE: BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: Gareth
Date: 01 Mar 02 - 02:54 PM

Press Cuttings update - CLICK 'ERE

Gareth


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Subject: RE: BS: URGENT UK contact your MP TONITE
From: The Shambles
Date: 01 Mar 02 - 03:17 PM

Thanks Gareth. One of the cuttings is the front page of The Stage.


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