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MPs call on government to back ‘agent of change’ law

By | Published on Friday 15 December 2017

Houses Of Parliament

The All-Party Parliamentary Group On Music has urged ministers to back proposals to incorporate an ‘agent of change’ rule into UK planning law. In a letter to relevant members of the government, the group’s Chair – David Warburton MP – called a change to current laws “vital” for protecting the UK’s grassroots music venues.

As previously reported, Labour MP John Spellar recently announced plans to propose a new agent of change law via Parliament’s ‘ten minute rule’ early next year. The new law would put the onus on developers to protect new residential properties from noise emanating from existing venues. The current lack of an obligation for new buildings to be designed with adequate soundproofing has caused problems for music venues, which can face licensing challenges when new neighbours in new buildings start complaining about the noise.

The so called ten minute rule allows backbench MPs to put forward a bill via a speech of up to ten minutes in the House Of Commons. Such bills rarely get passed though, and the system is more often used to put certain issues on the agenda. But the more support for such proposals the better, as it might ultimately influence government to introduce similar legislation in Parliament. Indeed, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has already hinted that the government is considering implementing similar agent of change rules at some point.

Politics moves slowly though, if at all, and one vague positive sign doesn’t mean the campaign has been won. Hence Warburton sending a new letter to Bradley, Digital Minister Matt Hancock and Communities And Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid.

“A growth in demand for property in UK cities has led to increasing rents and landlords selling to developers”, writes Warburton. “This has placed rising financial burdens on pre-existing operators of grassroots music venues that are often established in popular areas for redevelopment and suddenly find themselves attracting noise complaints from new residents”.

He continues: “I am sure you will agree with me in believing our music venues play a vital role in supporting the music industry’s infrastructure, nurturing our talent pipeline and ensuring a healthy industry across the country. I do hope you will further agree that John Spellar’s bill presents a great opportunity for the government to lead in this area”.

The APPG On Music’s support for agent of change has been welcomed by UK Music. The trade body’s CEO Michael Dugher – himself a former MP – says: “David Warburton is one of the most respected MPs and has been an authoritative and consistent champion of the music industry. It’s great that he and MPs from all parties in the All-Party Parliamentary Group On Music have thrown their weight behind this crucial campaign to protect our music venues.

He continues: “We will keep working with our allies like the brilliant Music Venue Trust to save venues that are essential to producing the next generation of global British music stars. They are a key part of the nation’s cultural fabric, creating thousands of jobs and giving pleasure to millions of music fans. I hope that ministers will listen to David Warburton and back the Spellar Bill”.

The there mentioned Music Venue Trust has just launched a campaign around this itself, called Agent Of Change Now. It calls on people to support a change in the law through social media and by writing directly to their local MPs. Find out more about that here.