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Government opposes adding “cultural benefit” to gig licensing criteria

By | Published on Tuesday 13 December 2016

Houses Of Parliament

A spokesperson for the government in the House Of Lords, Carlyn Chisholm, has spoken in opposition to the previously reported proposals that “cultural benefits to the community” be considered by local authorities when considering whether or not to grant a live music licence.

As previously reported, Liberal Democrat Lord Tim Clement-Jones last week proposed an amendment to the Policing And Crime Bill that would add “cultural benefit” as an additional criteria in the licensing process. 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 under Clement-Jones’ proposal, but licensing officials would be obliged to consider the positive cultural impact of staging an event as well.

The idea was backed by Live Nation’s Paul Latham, Alex Mann of the Musicians’ Union and Mark Davyd of the Music Venue Trust, who all gave evidence in Parliament last week. Speaking for grassroots venues, the latter said that: “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”.

However, according to IQ, Chisholm insisted that current live music licensing rules were fine, because there was a “presumption that licensing authorities will grant a licence in respect to an application, with appropriate conditions, unless there are strong concerns in terms of the licensing objectives”. She added: “Requiring licensing ‚Äčauthorities to consider the provision of social or cultural activities would run in contradiction to the other licensing objectives, all of which are aimed at harm reduction”.

Acknowledging that the government would oppose his proposals despite some other members of the Lords expressing support, Clement-Jones subsequently withdrew his amendment. But not before telling Chisholm: “I believe the Home Office also has responsibility in this area to help to preserve our venues, rather than simply stonewalling and saying, ‘We’ve got a very fine Licensing Act as it is and we don’t need any further objectives'”.