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PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas

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Nemesis 17 Dec 02 - 07:32 PM
Liz the Squeak 17 Dec 02 - 07:41 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Dec 02 - 07:48 PM
The Shambles 17 Dec 02 - 08:09 PM
The Shambles 17 Dec 02 - 08:19 PM
Liz the Squeak 17 Dec 02 - 08:23 PM
GUEST,Alan Curtis 18 Dec 02 - 05:17 AM
le cheffie 18 Dec 02 - 05:39 AM
The Shambles 18 Dec 02 - 05:43 AM
Dave Bryant 18 Dec 02 - 09:07 AM
DMcG 18 Dec 02 - 09:11 AM
Nigel Parsons 18 Dec 02 - 11:12 AM
IanC 18 Dec 02 - 11:19 AM
The Shambles 18 Dec 02 - 02:50 PM
The Walrus 18 Dec 02 - 03:41 PM
TheBigPinkLad 18 Dec 02 - 04:19 PM
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Cluin 18 Dec 02 - 04:26 PM
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Alice 18 Dec 02 - 07:58 PM
The Shambles 19 Dec 02 - 02:46 AM
Liz the Squeak 19 Dec 02 - 02:51 AM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Dec 02 - 05:30 AM
banjoman 19 Dec 02 - 06:12 AM
Dave Bryant 19 Dec 02 - 06:21 AM
The Shambles 19 Dec 02 - 07:49 AM
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Ian 20 Dec 02 - 04:24 AM
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McGrath of Harlow 20 Dec 02 - 05:23 AM
Skipper Jack 20 Dec 02 - 05:34 AM
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harvey andrews 20 Dec 02 - 06:20 AM
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Subject: PEL: Mummers stopped in Cerne Abbas
From: Nemesis
Date: 17 Dec 02 - 07:32 PM

Does any one know any more about this? I was forwarded an email from the EFDSS forum as follows:

"Last night (Monday 16 December) a licensing officer from West Dorset
Council (tel 01305 252214), prevented a mummers play at two pubs in Cerne Abbas. Claiming these to consist of more than two performers in a public entertainment and illegal without a Public Entetainment Licence.
This performance was advertised in the local paper, the Dorset Evening Echo.

letters@dorsetecho.co.uk
newsdesk@dorsetecho.co.uk"


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 17 Dec 02 - 07:41 PM

Any other info? Which team? or even which pub? (there are 3 in Cerne and it's driving me batty thinking it could have been the one I worked in or the one I drank in....)

LTS


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Dec 02 - 07:48 PM

Well, you could phone the licencing oficer in the morning and ask him.

I imagine if you'd suggested last week that this might happen the Mummers would have laughed at the notion as paranoid. After all evrybody knows that nothing like this is ever going to happen - until it does.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Dec 02 - 08:09 PM

See killed by the PEL system 2

Wessex Morris Men will be returning to Cerne Abbas on Monday to dance and perform their traditional mumming play.
they will dance in the village from about 8pm and perform the play later at the Red Lion and the nearby New Inn.
On boxing day, Wessex Morris Men will be in Cerne Abbas from about noon to perform traditional dances.

From the Dorset Evening Echo Saturday December 14.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Dec 02 - 08:19 PM

newsdesk@dorsetecho

letters@dorsetecho.co.uk

www.westdorset-dc.gov.uk


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 17 Dec 02 - 08:23 PM

The Royal Oak always was a bit snobbish about people performing there... never liked the bellringers doing handbell carols either!

I suspect most dancers will be safe on Boxing Day... after all, whoever heard of a council worker working over Christmas (I know, don't get out your prams, I can say it, I was a council worker for 12 years in total, 4 of those with the very same Dorset County council)?

Puts the old adage of 'no such thing as bad publicity' out of the window though.... if they hadn't advertised in the local paper, the inspector might not have had the idea of going to look for them. To sting them in one pub is bad enough, but to follow them down the road (and it is, literally, 500 yards down one of only 3 roads in Cerne village) to the other and sting them there too, is sheer, petty minded, beaurocratic vindictiveness.

LTS


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: GUEST,Alan Curtis
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 05:17 AM

The full details are as follows (this is from John Byfleet, a member of Wessex Morris, and is reproduced with his permission):


"We fell foul of the two in a bar rule this Monday [16 December 2002] at Wessex Morris Men's annual performance of the mummers play in the Cerne Abbas pubs. Normally ( for the last twenty years anyway) we go to the Royal Oak & sing & play en masse having performed the play in each of Cerne's three pubs (to a largely disinterested audience). A mumming team comprises around half a dozen and therefore if performed in pubs fall foul of the law as it stands.

"Until recently most of us were totally unaware of the two in a bar rule - it seems to have been honoured in the breach in the thirty odd years I have been participating in pub sessions, mummers etc - so no harm is done, but this year someone notified the Council that there was an intended performance comprising more than two players and presumably complained about same. Council apparatchik turns up at our chosen base pub - the Red Lion - on Monday morning and warns landord that he will be for the high jump if he breaks the law.

"Result = mummers play performed once only out in the square and much reduced session in the Lion - thus are developing folk customs suppressed !"

Privately, John has suggested who might have notified the Council - so perhaps advertising in the local paper did not make any difference?

Alan Curtis
Bagman, Dr Turberville's Morris


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: le cheffie
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 05:39 AM

This does not sound to good for other morris teams who want to carry on our traditions. Are there any usefull loopholes.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 05:43 AM

Advertising alone DOES NOT, and certainly does not make this activity a public performance. If it did other publicly advertised pub events would also automatically become a public entertainment, just by being advertised. Live TV football matches for example.

It does however mean that officers cannot continue to pretend not to notice it. In that sense it is not a good idea. But what is advertising? Word of mouth is still advertising.

But finding it is only the first step, they then have to decide if it is to be licensable. Unfortunately for activities like these they will so decide and then start counting heads to see if the two in a bar exemption applies.

But for these type of events they do not have to declare it licensable. For if they do not count the unpaid participants as 'performers, it simply would not be a performance of public entertainment.

Mummers are not (generally) paid or booked, they ask if they can use the pub to entertain (themselves mainly). if they decide not in fact to turn up, or not to 'act' if they should turn up, there is no contract or penalty clause.

Are they 'performers'? You could argue that they were, if you were a Council that wished to prevent them, equally you could argue that they were not, if you were a Council that wished to enable them?

There is still no case law that determines what a 'performer' is and the Government spokesman in the Lords has stated in 2000, that this definition is for the individual Licensing Authority i.e. a policy decision for your local Councillors.

I would suggsest that is the loophole, for these events in particular and other participatory musical activities.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 09:07 AM

It would be quite fun to know if most institutional events events such as "The Lord Mayor's Show" require a PEL and then to try and oppose them at the last minute. Perhaps we'd find out that there's one law for them and another for us humbler mortals.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: DMcG
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 09:11 AM

The Lord Mayor's Show won't if the new law is passed: remember the 'moving vehicle' clause? Of course, should they stop for any reason ...


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 11:12 AM

LtS: I wouldn't rely on Boxing Day being 'safe'. Council workers may not be working, but the police are. It only takes one 'jobsworth' to inform the police (in advance) that they are aware of an 'illegal' activity which is due to take place.

Nigel


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: IanC
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 11:19 AM

Nigel

The police wouldn't act ... it's not illegal in that sense ... it's a civil matter.

:-)


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 02:50 PM

Front page (with photo) of the Dorset Evening Echo 18 December 2002.
Morris men's traditional mumming play banned after mystery complaint
By James Tourgout.james.tourgout@dorsetecho.co.uk

Morris dancers have been kicked out of West Dorset pubs because council officers insist a licence is needed for them to perform inside.

The Wessex Morris Men were forced to stage their traditional Christmas mumming play in the street a Cerne Abbas despite having performed inside pubs for the last 18 years.

The drama came after council officers warned that a public entertainment licence was needed for the group to perform indoors at the Red Lion and new Inn pubs. David Pritchard, Wessex Morris Men Squire, said "it was a shame".

"The mumming play was something we do to entertain people at Christmas with no profit involved and as a bit of fun.

"It was disappointing that it should be prevented for some small reason over rules they might have over licensing".

Morris dancers suspect that the licensing warning was sparked by a complaint to West Dorset District Council by someone who spotted the event being advertised.
He added: "we were upset more than annoyed that someone would have been bothered to inform the licensing authority and that they were bothered to come out to the pub."

The dancers were due to visit the New Inn and the Red Lion before having sandwiches and a few drinks as part of their Christmas gathering. They staged the play outside after a council officer warned that a special licence was needed if more than two people were to provide entertainment inside.

A district council spokesman said: "We advised the landlord of the Red Lion pub that a public entertainment licence may be needed if a play involving two or more performers was going to be held in the pub and the public allowed access.

"We also advised them that a street collection licence would be needed if they planned to collect money for charity in the street outside the pub".

Dick Foad, New Inn landlord, said: Scrooge is alive and well in Cerne Abbas.
"It was a letdown as we had people waiting here and they were disappointed.. I have had morris dancers for 15 years. I was a bit taken aback when the licensing authority came about the public entertainment licence".
Mr Foad added that the licensing officer's hands were tied because he was acting on a complaint.

The morris dancers, which are based at Cerne Abbas, said the mumming play went very well outside and that they were well looked after by the Red Lion when they went inside afterwards.

Mr Pritchard added that the traditional village life and music was under threat from new government proposals to introduce entertainment licenses for performances everywhere – including churches.
The morris mumming play dates back to the 19th century and involves drama and dancing.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Walrus
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 03:41 PM

I'm tempted to agree with Dave, perhaps someone should lodge a complaint about the State Opening of Parliament, after all, it is mainly a play - complete with a script for Liz (even if she never bothers to learn the words)- and the Palace of Westminster does retail alcohol (Members only - ofcourse), so presumably it has some form if licence (although MPs are a law unto themselves - Literally).
Now, does anyone know of a sympathetic MP?

Walrus


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: TheBigPinkLad
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 04:19 PM

And how, pray, do they intend to deal with this:

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages."

--William Shakespeare, As You Like It


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 04:24 PM

From jane.blade@greenwich.gov.uk 12 April 2002

I write further to my letter dated 31 July 2000.

Council officers visited your premises on Tuesday 23 April at 9.23pm and observed twelve musicians performing folk music. You are already aware that to have more than two performers at your premises on any day is a criminal offence. The definition of "performers" has never been tested in Court, but even if this was a jam session the Council's view is that these people were "performers". They were being watched by at least a dozen customers, who were tapping their feet to the music and thus being entertained by the performance.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Cluin
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 04:26 PM

Ah, another old troublemaker, eh? Nick `em all, sez I.
Let God (the courts) sort `em out.    ;)


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 05:49 PM

You can respond direct to the story on the following -

http://www.thisisdorset.net/dorset/weymouth/


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 07:23 PM

The Cerne Abbas Giant here has the right response to this. "Up Yours", I think, is what he's saying.

Scurrying around looking for loopholes isn't the answer, nor is keeping things quiet and hoping we'll keep getting away with it. Right now the whole thing is on the political agenda and the legislation is proposed promises to make things a lot worse - no more two in a bar exemption, and it won't just be the landlord or the organisers who will be liable for a fine or imprisonment, it'll be the participants in any unlicensed "performance".

At a time like this the sensible and proper thing to do is to be as public as possible when we do something which breaches a daft law - and to aim for maximum publicity when the authorities come down on us. Which is in line with the attitude demonstrated by the Cerne Abbas giant - who might make an excellent graphic symbol for opposition to the licensing regime.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Alice
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 07:58 PM

What are they going to do about all the Christmas programs that students put on in the schools? They are open to the parents and public to be "entertained", too, aren't they?
Craziness.

Alice


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 02:46 AM

Please circulate

What a headline for the Sun!
Cerne Abbas, another giant c**k-up!

http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/majorsites/cerne_abbass.html

You can respond direct to the story on the following -

http://www.thisisdorset.net/dorset/weymouth/

As for the school concert Alice, have a look at the reasoning in the Lords debate on this subject..... Surreal


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 02:51 AM

The Lord Mayor's procession does stop - it has to for him to gain official permission to enter the city and pick up a 6ft sword..... maybe we could slap him with the PEL writ then?

The majority of school plays are not performed in bars, and not open to the public, but there have been restrictions slapped on a lot of them to do with potential paedophile photograpic activity, which is another reason only parents and grandparents are allowed to view.

And although alcohol is a problem in some of our schools (mainly with a few teachers I know), I don't actually know of any school premises that are licenced to serve alcohol... I know mine sure as hell didn't which is a shame because it would have made the days a lot les tedious.

LTS


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 05:30 AM

I think the Cerne Abbas Mummers could be the cause celebre that we've been needing. It's seasonal, it's funny, and involves thw world's enornmous explicit sexual symbol. And plenty of potential for double entendre headlines - "what a load of bollocks", "they don't like it up them", "up with the people" and so forth.

And doesn't the Cerne Abbas play have Father Christmas in it?

I suspect this'll be incorporated into future mummers plays all over the place - enter Mr Jobsworth from the Council, who tries to shut down the show, only to be driven away by the Cerne Abbas Giant Flasher opening his raincoat...


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: banjoman
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 06:12 AM

Where are we going next? If I show how fast I can drink a yard of ale and wager money on it am I a (paid) performer?
The real answer to all this is to test the legality of the actions of police or council officials in a court. I know that this happened in Broadstairs a few years ago following the intervention by a new police inspector in a session for spoon players led by the old trout band. It was lierally laughed out of court by the chairman of the local magistrates who accused the police of time wasting. So there is a precedent. Are there any good (or otherwise) Lawyers who dance the morris, perform in mummers plays or just enjoy a good informal session. If so - please get to work. Write to your MP/Euro MP / Local councillor or anyone else you can think of. I'd be happy to lend my weight to any legitimate public protest. How about a mass mummers /dance display in Trafalgar Square?


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 06:21 AM

I'd definitely support a mass play-in/sing-in in Trafalgar Square. All those CND rallies in the 60's with people like Joan Baez, Donovan etc performing would now be illegal under the PEL laws. Mind you, technically Westminster Council would be the landlords. Is there still a carol service in the square - is that legal ?


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 07:49 AM

Dorset Evening Echo 18 December 2002
Editorial Comment

Wanted: Some common sense.


So MUM is no longer the word in Cerne Abbas – not indoors, at any rate.

Morris dancers, who have staged their traditional Christmas mumming play in pubs for many years were told this year by council officers that there was no room for them at the inn.

After an apparent complaint to West Dorset Council that the event did not have a public entertainment licence, the dancers found themselves out on the street.

Many people's first reaction may be to say that the council was being heavy-handed, but councils, with responsibility for applying the licensing law, have a difficult balance to strike.

They are required by the Government to enforce the law, but will always find themselves under fire if they do it with too heavy a hand.

The episode certainly reinforces the arguments of those who are calling for a review of the law surrounding entertainment licenses on the basis that the current legislation is simply too petty.

We do need legislation which balances a light touch with a concern for the real issues of public safety at all places of entertainment which are likely to draw a crowd of people.

It is common sense, you might think, but sometimes common sense is difficult to express in law.

You can see the full story and respond directly from this on the following -
http://www.thisisdorset.net/dorset/weymouth/

or echo letters
letters@dorsetecho.co.uk

Please circulate


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 01:31 PM

Getting a bit political in the Dorset Evening Echo. Headlines today are Dorchester Civic Society writing to Oliver Letwin MP, West Dorset (Photo), and warning of the dangers of 24-hour drinking.

On the Licensing Bill, they are organising WHAT DO YOU THINK? Write to the Editor or email letters@dorset.co.uk.

Is there anything you wish to say?

In the same edition, Chris Lonegan has printed the Petition link and full wording on the Live Muisc page. They have not mentioned the response though. Perhaps you could ?


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 07:09 PM

It occurs to me that anyone dressed as Father Christmas and saying Ho Ho Ho is presumably engaged in a public performance, even if they aren't part of a mummers play. And therefore they are liable to be pounced on by the authorities if there isn't some kind of a licence.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Nemesis
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 07:24 PM

IF THIS LAW GOES THRU UNCHANGED,
CHRISTMAS WILL NEVER BE THE SAME!

Already .. under existing legislation this week PEL officers in Cerne Abbas   Dorset have stopped Mummers performing a traditional play ... and then followed them 500 yeards down the road to stop them performing at another pub! (story: Dorset Echo: 18 December )

PLEASE put the details of this protest event in your calendar and pass it on to as many people as possible, and please attend if you can.   Just in case .. the House of Lords has confirmed that carol singing will be a licensable event (same license that a Landlord has to apply for!

                        Monday 27 January 2003, 1:00 PM
                           Parliament Square, London
                               Mozart's Birthday
                                  Silent Protest

To illustrate the apalling impact that the Government's Licensing Bill will have on live and community music-making.
Bring your instrument (AND A GAG -medical-type mouth-coverings work well),
but don't play it.


Contact:Caroline Kraabel 020 7237 1564.
Caroline is part of the London Musicians' Collective

On a personal note: anyone in the Worthing area want to share a charabanc? PM me ..


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 07:29 PM

Mummers came in during our session at the Cove tonight. All good fun, the pub was entertained and there no problems from officaldom, as there is a PEL.

The licensee did show me a list of items from the council, on a new inspection form for existing PEL holders. He was not impressed as it was really just duplication of the Fire/Safety inspections that the premises would be subject to, even if no PEL was present.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Nemesis
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 07:34 PM

PLEASE put the details of this protest event in your calendar and pass it on to as many people as possible, and please attend if you can.   Just in case .. the House of Lords has confirmed that carol singing will be a licensable event (same license that a Landlord has to apply for!

                        Monday 27 January 2003, 1:00 PM
                           Parliament Square, London
                               Mozart's Birthday
                                  Silent Protest

To illustrate the apalling impact that the Government's Licensing Bill will have on live and community music-making.
Bring your instrument (AND A GAG -medical-type mouth-coverings work well),
but don't play it.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Rapparee
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 07:44 PM

Aren't mummers traceable to pre-Christian times? Along with Morris Dancers? And as such, weren't they originally part of a religious rite -- and even if they were originally Christian, isn't their play part of a religious celebration (i.e., Christmas)? Wouldn't that mean that this is part of a state-sponsored suppression of religion?

Does this mean that folks gathering together in their homes to celebrate Christmas with carols and songs and instruments might be violating the law, esp. if the neighbors come over? If I play my trumpet in my home and someone hears me and, for whatever reason, enjoys the music (!), do I need a license?

There's good sense, but there ain't no such thing as "common" sense. If there were, people wouldn't remark on it.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: pavane
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 02:49 AM

Nice try (pagan origins), but I don't think you can prove it, nor was it true!


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: GUEST,Chipinder
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 03:57 AM


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: GUEST,Chipinder
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 04:01 AM

Sorry - hit the wrong button

On my way into work listening to Radio 4 Today Programme they enticingly said there would be a piece on this in this morning's programme but unfortunately I arrived at work before the piece was broadcast. Can't find anything about it on the BBC website. Did anyone else hear it? I hope the piece on national radio made clear the idiocy of the legislation rather than pouring scorn on our traditions and heritage as so many of the media pieces do these days. Still they do say no publicity is bad publicity.

Chipinder


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Ian
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 04:24 AM

Yes I heard the R4 piece and the mummers and landlady put their case.
ie the tradition had been going on since the 1800s. The landlady did not realise that a PEL was required for the night. The local Licencing authority (chair Jill Haynes)stated that they were acting on a complaint and they had to phone the pub to stop the show. She claimed that "If there are more than two performers different fire regs apply". The licence costs £10.00 and should have been applied for in advance. As for the mummers they had to perform outside but they could not collect for charity as the did not licence to collect cash on the street.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 05:19 AM

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listen/listen.shtml

You can hear (RA) item on the above site.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 05:23 AM

So any c0mplaint and they have to stop it? Well, that's the Lord Mayor's Show buggered for a start...


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Skipper Jack
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 05:34 AM

Has our present government just discovered this Act of Parliament of 1642?

"If any persons commonly called fiddlers or minstrels shall be taken playing, fiddling or making music in any inn, alehouse or tavern, or shall be taken entreating any person to hear them play...that such persons shall be adjudged rogues, vagabonds and sturdy beggars, and shall be punished as such."


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 05:40 AM

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listen/listen.shtml

The council spokes person claimed a compaint did not enable them to turn a blind eye.

When asked if she regetted that they hadn't done this, then claimed they could not turn a blind eye.............

Don't quote this yet as I will try and get the exact words.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: IanC
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 05:42 AM

Just wondering what would have really happened if the mummers had gone ahead. They couldn't do anything to stop it at the time as it's not a criminal matter (or even a public order one). Also, the local council couldn't close the pub under current legislation.

What would have been different if people just ignored the jobsworths in this case? I know there's the threat of legal action but the local council would have to bring a case and prove something in court. What would their evidence be? How would they justify going to court? Judges and magistrates generally hate busybodies wasting court time.

Perhaps we should establish a "fighting fund" and sort out a test case. We'll be performing the mummers play on 3rd January, though I don't think Herts CC are supid enough to send someone out on a cold January evening ... they'd certainly get a reception from the locals!

:-)


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 05:58 AM

Just wondering what would have really happened if the mummers had gone ahead.

The lincesee would have been prosecuted, and probably pleaded guilty. That is why it did not take place inside. As it is not really up to the mummers, the important people are only the licensee and the council

It is a good point though, in this case if the licensee were found guilty of proving an unlicensed public entertainment, What penalty (if any) apart from a conviction would he have had?

Only the Court can tell us that.

Any licensees out there willing to test it????


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: IanC
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 06:07 AM

Traditionally with this kind of thing, the magistrate or judge awards a 1p fine, tells the "offender" to do it again if he feels like it and gives the plaintiff a very high profile and very public telling-off for wasting the court's time (and don't do it again).

:-)


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 06:16 AM

Unless on the other hand it's a different magistrate on a different day, and he or she throws the book at the defendant. Justice that is based on the whim of an official is no kind of justice.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: harvey andrews
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 06:20 AM

Was the £10 licence for the one event, or the annual licencing fee of that council?


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 08:57 AM

You can't tell from the words here but you can hear the relaxation in the voice when the Chairwoman thought she was of the hook by agreeing that they just could not turn a blind eye. Only to be caught competely off guard with the next question!

They have of course been turning a blind eye to matters of public safety for many years. Err, it err, it is part of the err, licensing procedure that has been going on for some considerable length of time.

Today programme BBC Radio 4 20 December 2002

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listen/listen.shtml

-Mummers plays are a very old and traditional part of English rural history. Short performances taken round pubs and private houses, in exchange for food and drink. It's a custom that dates back to medieval times. There is a strong tradition of them, in the West Country in particular but the tradition, in West Dorset at least has been stopped in its tracks – by the lack of a public entertainment licence.

John …'s [Kay?}been visiting Cerne Abbas to see the mummers at work.

Sound of the play proceeding and of music.

Now this play dates back to Napoleon's time and for generations the Wessex Morris Men have performed it in the pubs of Cerne Abbas in the week before Christmas. And the actors are all dressed up in their medieval costumes with multi-coloured ribbons flowing and as you can hear, their bells are ringing.

Now normally when they get here to the Red Lion pub they go inside – and they perform for a few minutes but this year they were told they couldn't go in.

David Pritchard you're the squire of the Morris Men, what happened then, this week?
We turned up as usual at eight-o-clock. We went to perform the traditional mummers play in two of the pubs in Cerne Abbas and when we got in, the landlady informed us that the local Licensing Authority had been informed and they had informed her that she hadn't got a licence and that we weren't allowed to perform inside the pub this year.

So what did you do instead?

Well, we sort of instead of, well my initial thing is –'in comes I, Father Christmas', instead of that I had to say 'out comes I, Father Christmas' and we came out of the pub and performed in the square outside the Red Lion.

It is very nice and picturesque on a fine evening but you're saying that it puts your whole traditions at risk?

Well, last year it poured with rain, and we certainly wouldn't go to lie in the road in the pouring rain. Yes it does, because if pubs are not prepared to take us in, then this won't be done. The Morris dancing that we do outside the pubs in the area, well if they can't take us in, and the tradition that has been kept alive for hundreds of years will simply whither and die on the bone.

Well, I'm going to go inside and talk to the landlady of the pub and you guys had better stay outside as you are banned, if you are playing.

[….Coates] you are the landlady of the Red Lion, it would have only cost you £10 or so to get one of these licenses so why didn't you?

I was unaware that a licence was required for a traditional village activity like this that has been going on for the past two decades.

What do you think of, that it is required and that you had to ban them?

I think it's a shame because you are going to rule out traditions like this that go on in villages, for villager's entertainment and the entertainment, the own entertainment of the people who are performing.

Do you think that rural life. As we know it, is in danger?

I do, because these sort of things are going to be wiped-out and the traditions that have been going on for years are going to eventually stop and we will lose all our history.

Well. Let me just add, before go that the Wessex Morris Men also raise money for charity when they do this but they couldn't raise money out on the street to do this because they needed a separate streets collections licence – and they hadn't applied for one of those either.

[John K…] in Crene Abbas, there well [Jill Haines] is chairwoman of the Appeals and Licensing Committee on West Dorset District Council, good morning.

Good morning.

This is mad, isn't it?

Err, it err, it is part of the err, licensing procedure that has been going on for some considerable length of time.

Still mad, isn't it?

Err, no it is not mad, it is there to protect the public.

How so?

How does it protect the public?

Emm

Because err, when someone id holding an entertainment with more than two entertainers. There are err, much stricter fire regulations for properties.

So it is just inevitable and something we just have to put up with?

Its something that has been there for some length of time, and err you know, the District Council are fully supportive of the mummers, for sure. But err, if a licence is applied for in advance then err, without predetermining it, we would be certainly more than happy to look at them.

Do you think that this threatens the very thing they do, the way, because of the way it has to work?

Well, what the District Council did was responded to a complaint from the public. We had somebody telephone the officers at the District Council, who said that they understood it was happening and that there wasn't an entertainment licence. Having had a complaint, we had to investigate and…

You couldn't turn a blind eye to it?

We couldn't turn a blind eye to it.

Do you recognise though, would you have preferred to have turned a blind eye to it?

Err, I'm don't turn a blind eye to any situation that could put the public at risk.

Well, [Jill Haines] thank you very much.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 09:49 AM

Mark has kindly agreed for this to be circulated.

For information, I heard the Radio 4 article and posted the attached message (below) to the Today programme.
Many thanks, Mark.


Mark Gibbens, Development Officer English Folk Dance & Song Society Direct Line: 020 7485 2206 ex.29

From: Mark Gibbens Submitted to Today
Programme, Radio 4, 20.12.02 -----

I was pleased to hear some coverage (20.12.02) of the current PEL crisis which is threatening traditional music, dance and song in England.

However your article rather missed the bigger issue; instead
focusing solely on the dispute between mummers in Cerne Abbas, Dorset and their local council.

The proposed PEL laws are threatening traditional and folk music in all areas of the country and some of the most vibrant cultural traditions are to be found in cities. It is not just about rural life.<

This issue goes to the heart of cultural life in England. The
English are only just discovering that they have as deep and vibrant a tradition as the Scots, Irish and Welsh, yet there is a very real risk that the new PEL proposals headed by Kim Howells will stifle it.

The PEL completely fails to tackle real public nuisance problems such as football matches on wide-screen pub TVs, and instead picks on handfuls of musicians with acoustic instruments or their own voices.

The PEL also falsely categorises a form of cultural expression which is a natural and integral part of people's daily lives as profit-making entertainment for the public. Who's next - people who tell jokes in the pub?

A more detailed analysis of the problem would be much appreciated by thousands of musicians, singers and dancers across the country.

Mark Gibbens, Development Officer, English Folk Dance and SongSociety.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 05:23 PM

We know that events like these which, in Committee Chairwoman Jill Haines's words 'put the public at risk', are going on, not only in West Dorset but all over the country.

Licensing officers are like a chemical reaction. If they have two elements: 1, that an activity is happening and 2, that the premises do not have a PEL, and off they go. on an automatic and inevitable course.

For it is only these officers that generally know if premises do have PELs, if an event should be advertised.

Officers will not of course take any responsibility for this, and will pass the buck and blame the law and some poor, real or imagined complainant.

For a public complainant is not even necessary. Except to be used try and deflect any criticism away from the officers or the council and excuse their actions. This tactic does tend to work, to some degree.

But the buck remains squarely with the members of each individual council. Who as the Licensing Authority, can decide if unpaid pub customers in activities like sessions, singarounds and mumming plays, are to be considered as 'performers'.

It is to their great shame that even now, not one has decided to use the sensible definition of the word performer' that is open to them.

Licensed Premises: Entertainment Legislation

House of Lords Monday 11 December 2000


2.53 p.m. The Lord Bishop of Oxford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, under Section 182 of the Licensing Act 1964, members of the public count as "performers" if they sing on licensed premises; and, if so, how local authorities can enforce public entertainment licensing legislation in a proportionate manner that is compatible with performers' rights under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My Lords, Section 182 of the Licensing Act 1964 exempts licensed premises from the need to obtain a public entertainment licence where the entertainment provided consists of music and singing by not more than two performers. Whether members of the public who sing on licensed premises count as performers is a matter for the licensing authority to decide, depending on the circumstances.

Ultimately, the compatibility of this provision with the European Convention on Human Rights would be a matter for the courts to determine. As part of our proposed general reform of the licensing and public entertainment laws in England and Wales, we propose to do away with the Section 182 provisions.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 06:43 PM

Could someone confirm the right way of pronouncing Cerne Abbas?


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Dec 02 - 07:56 PM

It is pronounced Serne, sounds like burn.

The elected member of West Dorset District referred to we, when talking about having to take enforcement action, which would have been against the wishes, I would suspect of just about everyone in this district.

All this silliness is taking place and being justified on behalf of those people. How much longer are we going to put up with our elected representitives and ther paid employees telling us what we are going to get? When they should be doing as we tell them?

For if your Council's wish is to prevent mummers plays, case law, as it stands will allow them to do this, but equally - they can enable these events if they wish to or are forced by you, their electors to do so............The choice is yours.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Dec 02 - 06:58 AM

The dates for the 2nd Weymouth Folk Festival this year are 9th - 11th May.
Top names already confirmed include Oysterband, The Yetties and Martin
Simpson.
Keep an eye on the website for more information on artists performing.
www.weymouth.gov.uk

Now I find myself in very difficult position. I would really like for this
to be a success and for you all to come and enjoy Weymouth and Portland.

However, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council are organising/funding this
festival and most of the events take place in their theatre.

This council have used their broad interpretation of the 'two in a bar'
exemption to prevent an unpaid folk sessions and are just about to use it
against another long-running session. They have also insisted on a licensing
condition that banned Morris dancing.

I have been trying for two years to get the councillors to change their
current definition of the word 'performer'. A change to a narrower
definition, open to them, that would enable these events, not to be classed
as public entertainment and be in line with Human Rights legislation, but to
no avail.

They do not see this as an important enough issue and are under the
impression that few people care.

Now whether you come and support this council's Folk Festival must be a
matter for you. But whether you intend to come or not, can I ask that you
make your views known to the Chief Executive Tom Grainger as to how best he
can ensure future support from the folk community for their folk festival?

TomGrainger@weymouth.gov.uk

And copied to the local paper.

Dorset Evening Echo newsdesk@dorsetecho

Many thanks


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: AggieD
Date: 21 Dec 02 - 09:43 AM

Have sent my tirade in your support. It will be interesting to see if I get a reply.

Do you seriously want to support a Council run event? Surely the best way to get your own back is if no-one turns up. I know that it may seem that you will be cutting off your nose etc. but it may be a good way to show the council that the folk community does have some clout?


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Dec 02 - 01:58 PM

Many thanks.

You have to understand that many local folk will already be working hard on this event, and I have no wish to see these honest efforts come to nothing. So I am not asking for folk not to support these efforts to bring a folk festival here, just to make their views known, to the council and to the local paper.

If those views are that they will not support a local authority with such an uncaring attitude and will not attend (or perform) until this attitude changes, that is the way it will be. The local folk will just have to accept these honest views and maybe then they will also put some pressure on the council? But that is up to them to decide, what is more important to them. Being true to their priciples or having a council funded festival.

I am supposed to be leading a session this year as part of the festival. If the council do not move and press home this latest enforcement, I will probably be starting an ALT festival, on Portland on these same dates. You will all be invited and made most welcome.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Snuffy
Date: 21 Dec 02 - 04:35 PM

What, even singers?


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: GUEST,Richard Bridge (cookie and format C)
Date: 21 Dec 02 - 06:44 PM

Nice to see EFDSS putting head above the parapet.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Dec 02 - 07:02 PM

A folk festival without informal sessions and singarounds, and dancing in the streets isn't a folk festival. Given that there are a lot of real folk festivals around, and it's impossible to get to more than a fraction of them, I can't see that there will be much reason to go to Weymouth that weekend.

Looking at the Folk Roots list for the equivalent weekend this year, it looks as though there won't be any shortage of alternatives. Weymouth looks a pleasant enough place - but then so does St Neots, for example, where they never seem to have these kinds of hassles from the council...


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Dec 02 - 09:27 PM

I am quite sure that the council's officers will be on their very best behaviour for the duration of the festival.

But it is a bit like putting on ones Sunday best. A bit misleading to judge from this get-up, what you will be wearing on the following Monday.

Yes Snuffy, even singers. For we can have as many types of sessions as required. We don't have to put all flavours of jam into the same jar, do we?


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Dec 02 - 06:06 PM

I wonder how the St Neots licensing officers would enable the activity, given a situation where they had been made aware that a mumming play or a session was taking place on unlicensed premises? Perhaps they could be asked and the answer provided to Weymouth and Portland?

I would like to thank those who have sent a message to the council and copied this to the local paper.

Please keep them coming, for already as a result of these, the local paper want to do a piece on the petition and on the Bill.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 23 Dec 02 - 01:27 PM

Spoke to the paper today and had my photo taken for the article. I will let you know when/if it appears.

The reporter said that they had received lots of messages already and that folk seemed to think it was WPBC that had prevented the mummers play. I pointed out that given the same circumstances and givn their policy, they would have acted exactly the same as West Dorset.

If we can keep it up, it may make a big difference. If we can get a change of policy here, it certainly will influence every other local authority.

TomGrainger@weymouth.gov.uk

And copied to the local paper.

Dorset Evening Echo newsdesk@dorsetecho

Many thanks


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 06:13 AM

West Dorset District Council who prevented the mumming play, are Billy Bragg's local council.

Can someone give him a nudge please?


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: breezy
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 10:53 AM

How can one complain about something that has not taken place?
So who is the 'Tell Tale'? any evidence.?
I feel sorry for the good mummers people of C A. so why not get a PEL for a day of music to coincide with the council sponsored fest, and go for heavy leaf-letting and ask for voluntary contributions or a subscription to join the 'society for the upholding of traditions' for a PEL fund to be held by the mummers and for such PEL to be obtained in advance for future events, if the pub's turn-over benefits then negotiate with local publicans for them to make a suitable donation.
Go for it dont let the buggers grind you down, especially the sad case who first complained.
I faxed my M.P., have you?


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 11:13 AM

That sounds very like colluding with a law that needs to be overturned. Far better to go ahead with performing and challenge the buggers.

That can't be done in poubs, because the publicans are at risk, and are unlikely to go along with it, but in the street or elsewhere it's still a breach of the law, and that's where to do it


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 26 Dec 02 - 01:50 PM

BBC on pub carols tradition - catch it

Q;You couldn't turn a blind eye to it?

A;We couldn't turn a blind eye to it.

Q;Do you recognise though, would you have preferred to have turned a blind eye to it?

A;Err, I'm don't turn a blind eye to any situation that could put the public at risk.

That was Jill Haines, chairwoman of the West Dorset District Council, interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme 20th December. She was trying to justify why the council had prevented a traditional mumming play, in two local pubs, that did not have Public Entertainment Licenses (PELs).

These two pubs, and many others have been hosting these plays for all the years that the law, the council claims is preventing them now, has been in existence!

The current entertainment licensing legislation that allows the above hypocrisy, is bad legislation. It is due to be replaced by equally bad if not worse legislation and even more hypocrisy.

Only 5% of licensed premises currently hold PELs. This is the only way that any live musical activity, that is not specifically exempt from the requirement, can legally take place.

Council's claim (like the above example) that they do not turn a blind eye, and for them to do so would be not only illegal but would place the public at risk.

We all know of many activities that would be considered by these local licensing authorities as public entertainment, and which is taking place in the 95% of premises that do not have PELs.

It is quite clear that licensing authorities are in fact turning a blind eye and as a result, they are ignoring the law and placing the public at risk. A fact, if made public, that will badly embarrass both them and the Government who are championing local authorities as being safe to take responsibility for all licensing under the Bill.

Government are bad enough by pressurising the local authorities for funds, but it is the latter who have made such mess of things, with many examples of patchy and petty enforcement, by placing unreasonable conditions and using the licensing regime to raise revenue. Not that there is any evidence of this reflected in the Bill.

But it is the demonstrable fact, that local authorities have been turning the blind eye, that is the 'Achilles heel' and does present many opportunities for us to demonstrate the poor quality of the current legislation and of the new. For if their defence will be that they do not have the resources to find all unlicensed entertainment, the question must be posed how they are to carry out their proposed increased responsibilities any better, and why we should trust them to do this?

It is difficult to exploit this blind eye issue and expose local councils for not following the law and placing the public at risk, without placing at risk both the activity and the licensee, however.

It really is the fault of councils who just turn a blind eye (until the point they claim they cannot), that give the current legislation a respectability it does not deserve and have made changing it so difficult.

This is most probably the last year annual events like mumming plays and in particular the pub carols in south Yorkshire and Derbyshire, will be taking place under the current legislation and these events at best, face an uncertain future under the new Bill.

The pubs that stage these annual events without PELs, but do not hold any other musical activities that would be risked, can now be safely used (preferably with the licensee's permission), as very effective evidence of the complete sham that the current legislation is. And of the totally bogus defence made for the continuing of blanket entertainment licensing, made by both Government and local authorities.

As there is now very little to be lost (only in the pubs I refer to), I feel the opportunity must be used before it is too late! For the fact remains that these activities are just as illegal in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire and the public made just as unsafe, by the councils involved tuning a blind eye, as anywhere else.

Unless these councils are prepared to stand up publicly and state the opposite? Or our current Home Secretary Mr Blunkett is going to explain why the pub carol events he attended were not illegal 'raves'?

Perhaps it could be arranged that some journalist could ask him?


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 04:04 AM

The following from Hamish Birchall

The creators of the none in a bar Licensing Bill are stuck in the 18th-century. The Bill is constructed as if 21st century safety, noise and crime and disorder legislation had never happened. The maximum penalty of a £20,000 fine and six months in prison for an unlicensed performance of live music is greater than for a serious breach of health and safety, or noise, legislation (which does not carry a potential custodial sentence). This was one reason why existing PEL legislation was rubbished in Parliament earlier this year as 'archaic and just plain daft.' But, unbelievably, the government has just confirmed that the penalty would continue to apply to carol singers:

"People singing carols in a supermarket or a railway station and so on would need to be covered by a premises licence or a temporary event notice." [Lord McIntosh, government whip, 1st Committee stage debate of the Licensing Bill, House of Lords, 12 December 2002]

Criminalising live music without a licence was an 18th century innovation. It was a crime and disorder measure, applying only to pubs in Westminster, at a time when there was no unified police force for London. Public safety and noise legislation was rudimentary or non-existent.

The Bill is a gift to jobsworths. Rest assured local authorities will enforce 'none in a bar' if this Bill is passed without amendment. Licensees, and musicians, will be treated as criminals where there is no safety risk and no noise complaint.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: AggieD
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 08:36 AM

Well we managed our music session in the pub before & after the traditional Boxing Day Mummers Play & Morris dance in Silsoe, Beds. Not a council jobsworth in sight. One of the men tried announcing the concerns re the PEL, but as usual the general public seemed to turn a deaf ear.

Still we'll all have to keep on fighting as best we can.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 05:55 PM

Dorset Evening Echo 27 December 2002.

Music enthusiasts blast council in public entertainment licences protest

Boycott threat to folk festival

By Matt Pitman
matt.pitman@dorset.echo.co.uk

Music lovers are threatening to boycott a major festival in a row over entertainment licences.

Enthusiasts are set to stay away from next year's Weymouth Folk Festival because they are angry at rules which means a licence is needed for more than two people providing entertainment in pubs.

Local campaigners helped organise a national petition protesting about the rule and more than 10,000 people signed within a week.

http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?2inabar&1

And they have also bombarded Weymouth and Portland Borough Council with complaints that folk performers are being unfairly treated, and hit out at new proposals which they fear could mean making music in public a crime.

They claim that the council has rigidly implemented the rules and done nothing to support local campaigners' attempts to address the problems.

Many now say that intend to boycott next year's folk festival, due to be staged between May 9 and 11, where top folk names Oysterband and The Yetties are set to perform.

The row comes after The Wessex Morris Men were forced to stage their traditional Christmas mumming play in the streets of Cerne Abbas because West Dorset District Council officers insisted a licence was needed for them to perform inside.

Roger Gall from Portland, who has enjoyed folk music for more than 50 years and started the petition said:
"The situation in both Weymouth and Portland and West Dorset is crazy. People don't want these activities banned."

He added "I would have liked to have seen the folk festival go well, but many people's attitude is that the council only seem interested in folk music for two days because their attitude towards licensing is unsupportive for the rest of the year."

In a series of letters to the borough council folk music enthusiasts have said they will stay away from next year's event.

Mary Humpheys, from Ely in Cambridgeshire, said: "I would not consider coming to the festival and I am certain that many of my performing colleagues would also be of the same mind."

Peter Skinner, who has been a professional folk musician for 40 years , blasted the council, saying: "By not supporting these traditions and showing your support to ridiculous draconian measures you are abusing your position and only using folk music to make money."

Peter Cripps, an officer of England's Glory Ladies Morris, said they were considering staying away from the town's folk festival.

Tom Grainger, borough council chief executive, defended the authority's handling of the situation.

He said, "The folk festival was a great success last year and we hope people support the event next year. There's no suggestion that people's enjoyment of folk music will be spoilt by any unreasonable level of implementation over entertainment licences."

Tom Grainger
TomGrainger@weymouth.gov.uk

Copy to

echo letters
letters@dorsetecho.co.uk


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 06:08 PM

"There's no suggestion that people's enjoyment of folk music will be spoilt by any unreasonable level of implementation over entertainment licences."

That's an interesting concept - especially given all that same council has said in the past, to the effect that it doesn't have the power to interpret the law in a way that is not unreasonable. And wasn't it Mr Grainger who said that?


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 06:19 PM

That and many other unhelpful things, he was also unaware until I informed him, that his council were even organising the first folk festival!


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 06:27 PM

Well at least one pub got round it yesterday by making it a ticket only, private party day and inviting the Mummers to join in.

If only recorded sound is exempt, how about if each carried a tape recorder with their parts on them... they could play them and mime.... ?

(just trying to inject a little humour into a terribly serious subject... I've signed the petition, joined the demo's and harangued my local MP.....)

LTS


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 06:28 PM

Er - does that quote not mean (if properly construed) that the council can be as unreasonable as it likes and no-one will care?


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 08:15 PM

http://www.thisisdorset.net/dorset/weymouth/news/WEYMOUTH_NEWS_NEWS3.html

You can read and respond to the story on the above site.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 04:54 AM

In my experience (10 years total working for Local Government, father had nearly the same) they will be as unreasonable as they want to be. The council named above is the same council that made a man redundant 2 weeks before his 60th birthday, so they could save the long service increment and thus increased redundancy pay they'd have to award him if he'd been employed by them for 10 years.

They are not spoilsports, they are genuinely trying to stop people being hurt in public buildings - because we as a community are becoming more liable to sue, and they want to cover their own asses. If they say 'they were there against regulations' then they are untouchable.

The fact that the guidelines are no guide at all, the interpretation of intent is at the discretion of people who probably have no idea of the actual circumstance, and 'reasonable' is at the interpretation of the same people, means that they have Auchweis to stop what ever they wish. Do not for one moment think that they will stop everything equally. If it is making money for the council you can bet your last Poll Tax bill that they will not stop it.

LTS


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 05:51 AM

http://www.freenetpages.co.uk/hp/trg/SCoFF/weymouth.htm

The above is a report presented by the officers and endorsed by the members of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council. You can judge for yourself how reasonable and how genuinely concerned this council were about the public's safety.

This council were also responsible for starting proceedings, that resulted in a 70 year old lady being sent to prison for feeding the birds in her garden.

Liz, after two years of trying, I do not disagree with you about the size of the problems involved in challenging local authorities, but you do seem to make even the attempt of trying, to sound futile.

I know that, if enough pressure is placed upon this local authority, and this time, in the way of E mail messages to them, copied to the local paper, we can get a result! A result that will
affect every other local authority in England and Wales. Please help?


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Dec 02 - 07:12 AM

From the council report linked to above.

Human Rights Considerations
5.1
Mr Gall has argued that by requiring the premises at which sessions take place to obtain a PEL Council officers are interfering unlawfully with his right to freedom of expression contained in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

As has been explained to Mr Gall, the right to freedom of expression is not an absolute right under the Convention. By applying the relevant licensing the Council has imposed conditions and restrictions on Mr Gall's rights which are legal, necessary and proportionate in the in the interests of public safety, control of nuisance and the prevention of crime and disorder.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Dec 02 - 09:26 AM

The council named above is the same council that made a man redundant 2 weeks before his 60th birthday, so they could save the long service increment and thus increased redundancy pay they'd have to award him if he'd been employed by them for 10 years.

That's Weymouth or West Dorset? It'd be useful to know, because, regardless of what they do about folk music, the people who did something like that deserve to be pilloried, shunned and humiliated.

Give us the details, Liz, and maybe we can have a Song Challenge about it.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 30 Dec 02 - 05:15 AM

Opinion in the daily Telegraph 30 December 2002

By next Christmas, carol singers will be criminals
By Billy Bragg
(Filed: 30/12/2002)



A sense of wonder and excitement fills the air as the earnest participants shuffle into view, their movements constricted by their elaborate animalistic face masks. Here, among the tombs of the ancestors, beneath the honoured names of ancient warriors, they solemnly assemble before the elders.

The whole community has gathered in this place of spirits for the annual telling of their most sacred story. The village headman steps forwards to address the enthralled audience.

"Welcome to St Mary's Church and this year's Nativity play," says Mr Powell, headmaster of our local school. "As some of you parents will know, we alternate between a pantomime in the school hall next door and a Nativity here in the church. Last year, we had a panto with the older children, so this year we have the Year Ones and Twos giving us their Nativity play."

The headmaster picks up his guitar and the children begin to sing Away in a Manger, each child dressed as one of the barnyard animals that attended Christ's birth. Every parent present gets a lump in the throat.

Here in west Dorset, the festive season is the busiest time for community traditions. The village players have rehearsed their pantomime, the choir its carol concerts and the mummers have dusted down their costumes and recalled their lines. Dorset has a strong mumming tradition and the village of Symondsbury near Bridport is felt by many to be the best example that has survived. I recently travelled up the valley to Litton Cheney to witness a performance.

Thorner's School was founded in 1690 and, as schoolchildren and parents huddled in on a dark winter's afternoon, it seemed a fitting place to see the Symondsbury Mumming Play. In common with all mumming plays, it features St George, who fights and slays his enemies, only to ask the Doctor to bring them back to life.

More characters appear, are killed and revived, and the play concludes with the singing of the Travels. A holly bough is brought in and the lady of the house - in this case, the Thorner's headmistress - is asked to tie a ribbon to it. The whole thing lasts about 45 minutes and is conducted in a knockabout style, with many asides to the audience.

The true meaning of the play is lost, even to those who perform it. The death and resurrection theme may allude to midwinter solstice celebrations, in which the sun is symbolically "reborn" as days begin to get longer. Whatever its original function, the Mummers Play nowadays serves to remind us of the pagan elements that linger just beneath the shiny surface of the modern Christmas.

The understanding of the play is much less important than the performing of it. Like all community traditions, mumming relies on continuity in order to survive and flourish. These yearly keeps may seem risible to some, but they are a means of bringing people together in an increasingly disjointed society.

The mummers, the Nativity play, the panto, the carol concert all provide opportunities for newcomers to meet their fellow villagers and appreciate the age-old values of the local community.

Yet all these activities are under threat from the licensing Bill that is currently passing through Parliament. While dealing chiefly with the sale of alcohol, the Bill seeks to amend the regulations regarding the provision of entertainment. Almost all public music-making, singing, dancing and acting becomes a criminal offence unless first licensed by the local authority. Even private performance is caught, if it is to raise money for charity, or the performers are paid, or a charge is made for admission.

The maximum penalty for hosting an unlicensed performance is a £20,000 fine and six months in prison.

The catch-all wording of the Bill seeks to criminalise all manner of hitherto legitimate activities. It defines "premises" as "any place". Thus, public demonstrations of musical instruments in a shop require a licence, as would a rendition of Happy Birthday in a restaurant. Making merry will be licensable not just in pubs and clubs, but also in private homes and gardens, in churches, schools and community halls.

If enacted without amendment, the Bill would have a devastating effect on our community traditions here in west Dorset. Churches are exempt only if the music is incidental to a religious service. For the purposes of the Act, our school Nativity was a play and therefore requires a licence.

If any members of the school band wish to form a group, their rehearsal space will have to be licensed, too. The WI will be faced with a huge increase in costs if it hopes to stage the village pantomime next year. The carollers will be confined to licensed premises. Even carol singing in shopping centres or railway stations would be illegal without a licence.

The mummers are also under threat from the scope of this legislation. Their brief season traditionally ends on New Year's Day with a performance at the Ilchester Arms in their home village of Symondsbury. Soon the landlord could be risking imprisonment unless he can afford a licence for such entertainment.

Most galling of all is the fact that this law will not apply in Scotland, despite the fact that other noise and safety legislation is UK-wide. Provided music is secondary to the main business, it is not licensable north of the Border. Scottish musicians will remain free to gather together in bars and clubs and hold impromptu "sessions". Although the Welsh will be subject to the Act, they have their own national assembly to protect their community traditions.

Here in England, however, we have no one to speak up for the Symondsbury Mummers and the countless other amateur players whose annual observances have ensured the continuity of our English traditions. For all of their dedication and commitment, they may soon find themselves squeezed out of existence by over-zealous bureaucracy. It seems that St George, for so long the victorious hero of the Mumming Play, is about to be defeated.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: DMcG
Date: 30 Dec 02 - 05:23 AM

There have now been quite a lot of letters in the Guardian, the Times and the Telegraph (for US readers, these are the main national 'serious' newspapers.) What, if anything, has been in the Sun, Mirror, etc? (i.e. the mass sales papers)


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 30 Dec 02 - 05:26 AM

It is a shame that government are being heavy handed, yet passing the buck to local councils to deal with. Had it stayed a national issue, it could have been argued that
"Great Britain is a suitable place for the playing of traditional music, dancing of traditional dance (and possibly Morris Dancing) and presenting of historical plays, ;
Can we apply for a PEL for Great Britain please?"


Nigel


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 30 Dec 02 - 02:08 PM

There have now been quite a lot of letters in the Guardian, the Times and the Telegraph (for US readers, these are the main national 'serious' newspapers.) What, if anything, has been in the Sun, Mirror, etc? (i.e. the mass sales papers)

Very little, .......a small piece in the Sun, is about all so far.

There may be hope. Just by luck, on the front page of the same Daily Telegraph that Billy Bragg's opinion appears in, Hamish Birchall assures me there is a photo of him. He just happened to be in Brighton and was photographed on the beach watching a rusting Victorian relic, crumbling in the modern age. This was the old West Pier but maybe it is also a sign that the days of other rusting Victorian relics, like entertainment licensing, are also numbered?


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 31 Dec 02 - 05:10 PM

http://www.weymouth.gov.uk/main.asp?svid=7&svaid=187&svapid=1581

Details of the folk festival on Weymouth and Portland Borough Council's website.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 01 Jan 03 - 12:01 PM

Letter to the editor, published in the Dorset Evening Echo 01 January 2003. newsdesk@dorsetecho.co.uk

Perhaps they will listen to another festival organiser who is also a councillor?

Folk fans deserve warmer welcome.

I am afraid Tom Grainger, chief executive of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, is sadly mistaken if he thinks his council's over-zealous enforcement of outdated laws relating to live music venues will not affect the council's own folk festival in 2003.

One of the most important elements of any folk festival is the informal music session in a local pub.

Traditional singers and musicians, along with traditional morris dancers, provide the bedrock support for any such event.

Sadly, it seems that such singers and dance sides are not welcome in Weymouth and Portland, where the council has gained a reputation for ruthlessly enforcing the so-called 'two in a bar ' rule to prevent informal sessions taking place, even when the council has not received a single complaint about the (unamplified) music.

Weymouth and Portland is almost the only council in Britain to be adopting such an attitude.

As a result several hundred folk enthusiasts who would normally have flocked to the Weymouth and Portland Festival may instead boycott the event.

It seems ironic that one council department is spending thousands of pounds of council tax payers money on promoting a festival which another council department is effectively under-mining.

It seems that one side of the council doesn't know or doesn't care what the other side of the council is doing.

As a festival organiser and elected councillor myself in Hampshire, I would be screaming blue murder if my local authority was wasting council taxpayers money in this way.

The council is paying good money to book some first-class acts for the formal festival. Sadly, many of the people who would have enjoyed seeing them will not visit Weymouth and Portland so long as the informal music sessions are banned by the council

Councillor Peter Chegwyn
Gosport
Hampshire


letters@dorsetecho.co.uk


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Jan 03 - 01:45 PM

I had been hoping that the Cerne Abbas giant might get the story a bit of attention in the Sun. Maybe if it had been a Cerne Abbas giantess instead it might have done the trick.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 01 Jan 03 - 08:12 PM

They make a nice Cerne Abbas Giant wallclock locally.

The giant's outstanding feature forms the seconds hand, whirling around at some speed. I can't see a giantess clock having quite the same tasteful effect.*Smiles*


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Nemesis
Date: 02 Jan 03 - 12:06 PM

Perhaps someone can bring the giant along on 27th January 1pm Parliament Square to the demonstration?


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 02 Jan 03 - 01:22 PM

http://www.unc.edu/~debest/monster/cerne.htm

Can't really go around digging up scheduled ancient monuments, especially as this would mean digging up half the hillside!

There are already plenty of long standing members in and around Paliament Square. Some of them even bigger 'dicks'!


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: clansfolk
Date: 02 Jan 03 - 04:14 PM

Weymouth Council appear to be putting the block on Folk Music sessions and dancing but are still happy to take money for Festival tickets?

I have emailed the major artists at this years festival with details of the incidents - Maybe if they recieved more emails they may make a stand, presuming they remember who made them "major artists" and how most of them started out.

I certainly won't be atending Weymouth this year or any other festival that is run by councils who close sessions with one hand and grab ticket fees with the other - how about YOU??????


Pete


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Nemesis
Date: 02 Jan 03 - 08:16 PM

I'm sure a metaphorical paper version of the Giant would be more than accurate..

Just on a placard surely would at least focus media attention?   

ooooooooooooh, ok I'll see what I can do ......


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: clansfolk
Date: 03 Jan 03 - 04:33 PM

Further to my emails to Artists playing Weymouth.....

From:- Bonny Sartin of the Yetties...............

Hi Pete,
Thanks for your e mail about the problems down here. No one from Wessex has mentioned this to me but I'll do some research and some stiring with the council if I feel I can do any good. It may be best just to let it die down, the official involved may have had a rap over the knuckles by now. I just don't know. Certainly we have had no problems at all so far.

All the best,

Bonny Sartin   

The Yetties
Any comments with local problems to the above????


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Jan 03 - 05:51 AM

There have now been quite a lot of letters in the Guardian, the Times and the Telegraph (for US readers, these are the main national 'serious' newspapers.) What, if anything, has been in the Sun, Mirror, etc? (i.e. the mass sales papers)

I woke up with the answer to how we get into the Sun etc. We need the writers of TV 'soaps' like Eastenders to include licensing in their story lines first.

Then the tabloids and all the magazines will splash the story all over their front pages. How about?

Peggy organises a good old cockney singalong and 'knees-up' around the Queen Vic's piano and is reported to the council (by the night club), for oganising an unlicensed public entertainment............


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 06:49 PM

The following exchange is a year old, but nothing appears to change much in the workings of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.

From: "Tim Walker" tim.walker@efdss.org
To: chiefexec@weymouth.gov.uk
Sent: Monday, January 14, 2002 6:12 PM

Dear Mr Grainger

The English Folk Dance and Song Society is the country's premier advocacy organisation in the field of folk related activities and represents a membership numbering 5000 individual members and affiliated clubs. In total we represent in excess of 25000 individuals around the country who are actively involved in folk music and folk dancing.

In addition to our national education activities (some of which take place in your borough), we also house the national archive of folk related materials (books, manuscripts, recordings, photographic and films resources, research papers, costume and artefacts) in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library here in north London. This multimedia archive is the largest and most diverse resource of English cultural materials and documents in the world and many of the materials cannot be found elsewhere. As such we can genuinely be considered the country's authority on English folk culture.

I have been following, with great interest and concern, Mr Roger Gall's search for an equitable solution to the PEL issues that have marred the activities of the folk sessions at The Cove Public House and would like to register the EFDSS's support of Mr Gall in his persistent questioning of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council in this matter.

It is the view of the English Folk Dance and Song Society that, in cases where there are no registered noise complaints and where no hazard to public health and safety can be identified, Local Government Authorities should responsibly put all practical effort and consideration into reading, interpreting and giving effect to the Entertainment Licensing Legislation in such a way as to actively encourage and promote locally organised, participative, cultural activities for the benefit, through richness of experience, of the community at large.

As we understand there to be a lack of clarity on the term 'performer' and a degree of discretion on your part with regard to fee structures, the EFDSS would welcome constructive discourse with WPBC on this matter and would invite either yourself or one of your colleagues to contact us either by email or on the telephone number below at your convenience in order that a non-confrontational way forward may be identified.

Yours sincerely Tim Walker

From: "Tom Grainger" TomGrainger@weymouth.gov.uk
To: "Tim Walker" tim.walker@efdss.org
Cc: "Sue Allen" SueAllen@weymouth.gov.uk; "Ian Locke"
IanLocke@weymouth.gov.uk
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2002 9:58 AM

Thank you for your enquiry. The reality is that the live music scene in Weymouth & Portland is thriving. Also the there is no bar to live music at the Cove House Inn. The licensee has applied for and been granted a PEL. There is of course a view being expressed by other parties, including Mr Gall, that a PEL is not necessary under current legislation, for the kind of activities operated at the Cove House Inn.

It is not a view that is shared by the Council, nor from our research any other licensing authority. The matter has been debated widely and at length in this Council and has been considered by Councillors. There are no new points being added in any discussion and consequently the Council is no longer prepared to continue detailed discussion on the matter. Our view is that ultimately it is a matter of law, which would have to be tested in the courts, not one of policy or local interpretation. We have no wish to pursue the matter to the courts and I am sure neither does the licensee.

At least one party to the very detailed discussions that we have had does not accept this view and has therefore taken the matter up with the local government ombudsman, to whom we shall of course respond.

You mention a non confrontational way forward and local discretion on fees etc. Our view is that the present law is in need of reform and that is the best way forward in the longer term. In the meantime, our licensing staff will continue to work with musicians and licensees to try to ensure that the present law is applied fairly, sensibly and consistently.

The fee structure in Weymouth & Portland is realistic and not prohibitive and as I said at the start of this note the live music scene is thriving. It would be inappropriate for me to pass on third party comments, without their consent, but there is plenty of evidence to support the comments I have made in the previous sentence.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 07:18 PM

The Times
January 13, 2003

Pensioner evicted for feeding the birds
By Simon de Bruxelles


A PENSIONER is to be evicted from her housing association flat because she refused to stop feeding the birds in the back garden.
For three years Barbara Simpson, 64, has attracted flocks of pigeons, sparrows and starlings to the block of flats where she lives by throwing bread out of her window. Her elderly neighbours complained that the hundreds of birds were a health hazard and exposed them to illness because of their droppings.

Anchor Housing Association, which owns the flats in Weymouth, Dorset, took out a court injunction last year to stop Mrs Simpson feeding the birds. It had even put a mesh up at her windows in an attempt to stop her feeding the birds.

The housing association took her to a county court to repossess her flat, but she was reprieved by the judge on condition that she agreed to stop feeding the birds.

After she returned from court she was filmed by a private investigator hired by the housing association pushing bread through the mesh as birds perched on the window sill.

The association reapplied for an eviction order at a county court, and a judge has now upheld the application, describing Mrs Simpson as "a thorough nuisance to her neighbours".

Mrs Simpson now has two weeks to leave her home and will have to find bed and breakfast accommodation.


This is the lady I referred to above. Weymouth and Portland Borough Council's officers were responsible for starting the process, 4 years ago that ended in this lady being sent to Holloway Prison. The council will now have to find a home for her and will no doubt continue to make her life a misery. Bed and breakfast will be the option as she is considered by our council to have made herself homeless.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Jan 03 - 02:39 PM

Dorset Evening Echo 29 January 2003

Council letter pledges action over breaches in law.

Fresh warning over unlicensed shows
By James Tourgoutjames.tourgout@dorsetecho.co.uk

Landlords and entertainers face a new warning over unlicensed performances after a morris dancing fiasco in Cerne Abbas.

West Dorset District Council, in a new letter to be sent out in response to inquiries, says it will investigate any breaches.

The move comes after pubs in Cerne Abbas were warned not to let the Wessex Morris Men perform inside because they do not have public entertainment licenses.

Bob Hanton, council corporate services manager, said that the traditional events such as morris dancing should be exempt from a licence. "It is not open to local authorities to arbitrarily decide that the legal requirement for a public entertainment does not apply to a particular type of entertainment, such as folk or traditional type events. Authorities have a duty to apply the legislation fairly and impartially."

The Wessex Morris men were forced to perform their Christmas mumming play in the street in December after the licensing swoop in December. They hit out at the licensing laws and an informer who tipped off the council after staging the drama inside pubs for the past 18 years.

The new development follows fears in Weymouth that musicians were being treated unfairly in the run-up to the town's folk festival. Now members of the district council will hear about the new letter at an appeals and licensing committee meeting today.

The letter emphasises that premises must have public entertainment licences if events are being staged by three or more people. Mr Hanton said in the letter: "Where it comes to the attention of the council that public entertainment is being provided without the benefit of a licence, the council will investigate the matter and if appropriate will take further action."

He added: "The legislation is not intended to ban any type of entertainment but rather to ensure that such events meet the relevant health and safety standards for the protection of the public."

ENDS

Are council officers conspiring together, against the public's interest, to ensure that singing from the same hymn-book? Do the following statements look familiar?

This from the 05/06/01 report, to the councillors of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council. "It is not open to the authority to disapply the legal requirements to hold a PEL in respect of one particular type of entertainment. This Authority has a duty to apply legislation fairly and impartially."

And from Weymouth and Portland Borough Council' Chief Executive's 23/12/02 letter to all councillors. "Where it comes to the attention of the Council that a public entertainment is being provided without the benefit of a Public Entertainment Licence on anything more than a one off, accidental basis the Council will intervene to explain and if necessary enforce licensing legislation."

In fact these two councils are following the officers of Oxford City Council. This council's elected members had instructed their officers to enable unpaid folk sessions as they did not consider these to be entertainment. However, their officers came back and told them that that they could not - this from a report to their members on 20/03/01. 18.

"It is not possible for the Council to have a policy of non-enforcement of the legislation especially in respect of one particular type of entertainment. Whilst each application for a PEL is considered on its own merits a uniform and fair approach must be adopted in respect of enforcement. The Council MUST NOT fetter its discretion in this way and would be open to challenge if it did. The test is whether or not public entertainment is taking place."


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Jan 03 - 03:44 PM

"It is not possible for the Council to have a policy of non-enforcement of the legislation especially in respect of one particular type of entertainment. "

That really is a load of cobblers. Any organisation with a duty of law enforcement has coinsiderable leeway in deciding when to act and when not to act. The police do it all the time, as demonstrated with the easing up on cannabis, in advance of any change in the law.

And there are all kinds of totally crazy bits of law still on the statute book in all countries which are sytematically ignored. (Here is a site from America that lists various crazy laws that exist or have existed until recently in the States.)

Councillors who believe this kind of stuff from officers and go along with enforcing things they feel are wrong aren't fit to be councillors. Yes, there are limits on the freedom of a council, but they aren't as narrow as these councillors were given to believe. And chose to believe.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: Mr Happy
Date: 29 Jan 03 - 08:21 PM

does this suggest a parallel with another 'silly bill' enacted in the USA in the 1920's: Prohibition! [of alcohol, in a significant number of states]

the federal govt. had its 'g' men to seek out underground drinking clubs known as 'speakeasys''& prosecute both the proprietors & customers.

sounds familiar, doesn't it? £20k fine for each landlord, proprietor, 'audience members' 'performers' + 3 months 'porridge'.

will all the folkies have to retreat to 'folkeasys'?   

the jazzers to 'jazzeasys', fledgling pop groups to 'popeasys' etc?


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 31 Jan 03 - 09:59 AM

Dear Sir or Madam:

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) ACT 1982
PUBLIC ENTERTAINMENT LICENCE


With regard to the recent discussions and media attention concerning traditional "folk entertainment", the council would like to re-iterate that under the current legislation, all events (including folk music) where public dancing, music or similar activity takes place and is performed by three or more people, regardless of whether an entry charge has been made, and whether organized or impromptu, a Public Entertainment Licence is required. This does not of course apply to a private function or an event within the bounds of a members only club.

Where it comes to the attention of the Council that public entertainment is being provided without the benefit of a licence, the Council will investigate the matter and if appropriate, will take further action.

The legislation is not intended to 'ban' any type of entertainment, but rather to ensure that such events meet the relevant Health and Safety standards for the protection of the public.

The new proposed licensing bill may clarify, confirm or indeed reform some aspects of this long-standing debate. However, until such time as new legislation is enacted the afore mentioned statement will continue to apply

Yours faithfully

R P Hanton LLb MBA
Corporate Services Manager


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 31 Jan 03 - 10:06 AM

WEST DORSET DISTRICT COUNCIL
    APPELAS AND LICENSING COMMITTEE – 30th January
    2003
    REPORT OF THE CORPORATE SERVICES MANAGER
    LICENSING OF TRADITIONAL EVENTS

    FOR INFORMATION
*   PURPOSE OF THE REPORT
*   To inform Members of the circumstances surrounding the
    recent publicity about the licensing of 'traditional' events,
    such as 'mumming plays'.
*   REPORT
*   Background
    On 17th December the Council received a complaint from
    a member of the public concerning a performance that was
    due to take place that evening at the Red Lion and New
    Inn pubs in Cerne Abbas.

    It was alleged that the Wessex Morris men were due to
    perform their 'mumming play' inside both of the pubs
    concerned. Both of the events had been advertised in the
    locality, although the Council's records showed that
    neither of the premises concerned were in possession of or
    had made an application for a public entertainment
    licence.

*   Developments
    An officer attended both of the pubs concerned before the
    performances took place in order to obtain more details.
    Based on the information provided, both landlords were
    informed that without the necessary licence, the planned
    entertainment, if performed inside the premises, would be
    illegal.

    Performances by the Wessex Morris men held during the
    summer are usually undertaken outside on the public
    highway – under the current legislation, such events do not
    require a licence. Advice was given to the landlords on the
    requirement for a licence and how to apply.

    In the event, the pub landlords concerned took the decision
    not to allow the Wessex Morris men to perform inside the
    pubs, and the performances were held outside the pubs
    instead.

    In the following days, the issue of the performance of
    'traditional' events was raised in the local and national
    media. The Chairman of the Committee was invited to put
    the Council's views as part of a feature on BBC Radio 4's
    'Today' programme.

*   The Current Position
    Weymouth & Portland Borough Council have also recently
    received publicity for taking a similar enforcement line
    with regard to unlicensed events. The Weymouth Folk
    Festival is due to take place from May 9 – 11 this year and
    campaigners there are concerned that folk performers are
    being unfairly treated.

    The 1964 Licensing Act is quite specific and prevents any
    public entertainment being provided in any place except in
    accordance with a public entertainment licence issued by a
    local authority. Entertainment is defined as 'public
    dancing, or music or any other entertainment of a like
    kind'.

    The legislation also permits some exemptions to the need
    to obtain a licence. This includes events where no more
    than two performers provide the entertainment.

    Whilst many of the comments received following the
    media reports suggest that 'traditional' events should not
    be treated in the same way as a disco or a pop concert and
    should be exempt from the requirement for a licence, the
    legislation makes no such distinction.

    It is not open to local authorities to arbitrarily decide that
    the legal requirement for a public entertainment licence
    does not apply to a particular type of entertainment, such
    as folk or 'traditional' type events. Authorities have a duty
    to apply the legislation fairly and impartially.
*   CONCLUSION
*   For Members information, and attached as an Appendix to
    this report, is a copy of a letter that has been drafted in
    order to respond to any further questions concerning the
    Council's response to this event or any similar future
    events


    R P Hanton
    Corporate Services Manager


    Any Questions arising from this report should be directed to
    Mike Hickman (Tel.: 01305 252208, Email:
    m.hickman@westdorset-dc.gov.uk).


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 02 Feb 03 - 03:28 PM

The following to West Dorset District Council from Molly Barratt.

Dear Mr Hickman

Having been involved in "traditional" music for the last 37 years, you can imagine that it comes as something of a shock to realise that the vast majority of that involvement has been totally illegal. Yes, I realise that being smuggled into a country pub at the age of 13 when I pestered my parents to take me along to hear the singing was not strictly within the law, but my mother assures me that the local bobby was usually there anyway...

Since then I have learned such skill as I have in singing from venerated "old boys" on the Suffolk coast, grand Scottish women in all sorts of odd venues at folk festivals and from half-cut roustabouts and Irish ex-patriots who have stepped in from the public bar and shyly sung in quiet corner-pub sessions that I have run.

I have seen at least one youngster catch the creative spark in the back room of a pub before falling asleep (full of cola and crisps) on the bench. Two years on he was playing his dad's melodeon, and in his twenties became a fully professional performer with a love and knowledge of the tradition that can only be caught, not taught. I have had the astonishing compliment of hearing a young woman come back home from college and sing in public for the first time - and sounding exactly like me!

I have worked for a while as a reminiscence/ craft worker in local authority run residential homes, and had the unique honour of being able to partake in what was clearly a very meaningful encounter with a withdrawn, elderly man. I took along a harmonica. "I used to play one of those" were the first words he said to me, after months of silence. "No", it wasn't the only instrument he played. "No", he didn't play alone. One word at a time he gave the information that there had been a whole community of players of different instruments - melodeon, dulcimer, fiddle... the next week he wasn't there.

Before I went home I asked the manager how W...... was. Not good. Yes, I could go and visit him in his room, so I did. Not knowing the man, I did the only thing I could be certain to evoke a memory, hoping it would be a good one. I started singing "The Farmer's Boy". He joined in every chorus, or at least his lips moved in time to the words. During the following week he died. It felt important that someone was around who knew the kind of music that said something to him.

I am eternally thankful that I grew up when I did, at a time when the licensing authorities by and large took a more pragmatic view of such things and provided people's health and safety was not at risk chose not to enforce what has always been a very odd piece of legislation. If they had not taken that attitude, we would be living in a cultural desert as far as the "tradition" goes.

I realise that West Dorset council is well aware of these anomalies. What I would like to know is this: is the council willing to engage in a positive effort to help to reform the proposed reforms so that we can end up with a truly deregulatory piece of legislation which does not cause problems for people's health and safety, nor their freedom of expression, nor nuisance, nor burdensome responsibilities for either local authorities or the police?

I do not know what form this effort might take, indeed, you probably have a much better idea of that than I, but what I do feel is that something needs to be done, but that the proposed legislation will create even more difficulties all round in this respect than the current law does.

Sincerely

Molly Barrett


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 02 Feb 03 - 03:57 PM

Some coverage on the Folk Drama Forum.

http://www.folkplay.info/Forum/TD_Forum_6_Cerne_Abbas.htm


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 09:22 AM

There would appear to be some good news for the Cerne Abbas Mummers and mummers everywhere. This WAS the position re mummers plays and the new Licensing Act.

http://www.folkplay.info/Forum/TD_Forum_8.htm

It would appear that talks over the statutory guidance (or secondary legislation) of the Act has decided that mummers plays are Morris Dancing or of a like kind - as such will not be regulated entertainment and require adavanced permission and a licence.

Quite how this performance of drama only, with little music or dancing can be so considered is beyond me - but it must be welcome if these events can now be free of official intervention - however strange the reasoning may be.


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Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
From: IanC
Date: 26 Jul 10 - 04:53 AM

Historical note:

The inclusion of mummers plays in the "Morris Exemption" never happened, despite rumours put about by the morris organisations (I believe they were trying to negotiate this with the then government).

As things stand, unlicensed mummers plays ARE STILL ILLEGAL.

Ian


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