UK Government rejects key licensing recommendations

August 2009

Live events industry

The UK Government has rejected two key concerns from the live music industry regarding reforms of the 2003 Licensing Act – exempting smaller venues from the bureaucracy of the Act and scrapping the controversial Form 696 – both of which were highlighted in the recent report from parliament’s Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee which addressed a number of the concerns and proposed a small venue exemption and the abolition of the Form 696. Confirming that was the case, the Department Of Culture, Media & Sport told reporters it had “not been able to reach agreement on [small venue] exemptions that [they believe] will deliver an increase in live music”, while on Form 696 it noted concerns within the live industry but said that, as this was a Met Police form, it was up to the Met Police to decide whether or not to keep using it. Commenting on the DCMS’s decision, cross-sector music business trade body UK Music said they were “extremely disappointed by the government’s response. At a time when the British music industry is facing significant recessionary pressure and government’s own research indicates a 5% decrease in the number of venues available to aspiring young musicians and performers, we had hoped, wrongly, that this government would endeavour to provide the most supportive framework possible for our industry. Today it has not”. Feargal Sharkey, who has led the music business’ lobbying efforts in this domain, both in his current role as head of UK Music, and in his last job as chair of the Live Music Forum, told CMU: “After six years of legislation, eight consultations, two government research projects, two national review processes and a parliamentary select committee report, all of which have highlighted the harmful impact these regulations are having on the British music industry, government’s only reaction is yet another review”. He continued: “Yet again we are told to wait. Yet again we are told that there will be another new review process, more meetings and yet another group, this time charged specifically with trying to develop loopholes which exploit a deeply flawed and ill-conceived Licensing Act. At what point does someone within government become brave enough to acknowledge that it is time to raise a hand, time to admit they have got it wrong and time to fix it. To recall the words of one former party leader, ‘Sometimes it is better to lose and do the right thing than to win and do the wrong thing'”. Other MPs have joined criticism of the Glastonbury’s inaction with Janet Anderson MP, chair of the Busisness and Enterprise Committee joining other MPs in signing an early day motion criticising the Government’s position and urging them to review the Select Committee’s recommendations.  See CMU Daily  15 July 2009

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