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Amendment to policing bill aims to force consideration of “cultural benefits” into the event licensing process

By | Published on Wednesday 7 December 2016

Live music audience

Lord Tim Clement-Jones will today propose an amendment to the UK’s Policing And Crime Bill which would ensure that “cultural benefits to the community” are considered by local authorities when considering whether or not to grant a live music licence.

Current gig licensing rules put the focus on the potential negative impact of an event, including crime and disorder, public safety and public nuisance. None of that would change, but licensing officials would be obliged to consider the positive cultural impact of staging an event as well.

Clement-Jones will propose the amendment following a year-long investigation in the House Of Lords into the effectiveness of the Licensing Act 2003, legislation the Liberal peer has already reformed with his Live Music Act back in 2012. As part of the new review, Live Nation COO Paul Latham, who is also chair of the UK Live Music Group, was joined by Alex Mann of the Musicians’ Union and Mark Davyd of the Music Venue Trust to give evidence in Parliament yesterday.

All three men are backing Clement-Jones’s proposed amendment. Latham said: “As leading venue operators across the UK we strive to bring a ‘best in class’ operation to all our venues and that includes mutual learnings throughout our venue portfolio. At all times we try to work progressively with the respective local authorities to share our learnings. Unfortunately not all local authorities are like-minded and their interpretations of the Licensing Act are not always helpful, or consistent, which is frustrating and creates obstacles for venue operators at all levels”.

Davyd added: “Licensing is just one of many areas of the legal framework around grassroots music venues that is contributing to their rapid decline. In the case of licensing, Music Venue Trust is not asking that a special case be made for grassroots venues. Rather, we believe a further push to support the intent of the Licensing Act 2003 – and the subsequent Live Music Act 2012 – is required so these culturally and socially important spaces achieve parity in the manner in which the licensing framework handles and supports them. We want to see grassroots music venues acknowledged and respected alongside theatres and arts centres as spaces that are vital to the health, wealth and happiness of the UK”.

And Mann said: “Since the introduction of the Licensing Act in 2003 the MU has maintained that live music should not be licensed and remains committed to ensuring that if licensing conditions are to be placed upon venues, then they are for the good, not the detriment of the venue. Our members rely heavily on venues being able to remain open in order to provide places to perform and develop their craft, not to mention the crucial role that live music plays within our communities and cultural heritage. The Licensing Act’s existing objectives specifically made regulation of live music a public order issue, so we feel that a better balance is needed here, which acknowledges and reflects the cultural impact of live music”.