Local Entertertainment Law

Public Entertainment Licensing
East Cambridgeshire District Council - Environmental Services Section
For further information please telephone: 01353 665555 x 286
or write to Stephen Clements at:
East Cambridgeshire District Council
The Grange - Nutholt Lane - Ely - CB7 4PL
email: stephen.clements@eastcambs.gov.uk

Inspection and licensing of premises to ensure they comply with health and safety conditions and to prevent a nuisance to other people in the area. You can also phone (automated exchange) 01353 668833 x286

TOP & BOTTOM - GET A DISABLED TOILET & YOU WILL GET A LICENCE


----- Original Message -----
From: Hamish Birchall
To: Hamish Birchall
Sent: Thursday, July 03, 2003 7:52 PM
Subject: Small events exemption defeated


The Government has defeated the small events exemption proposed by Opposition Peers. The Lib Dem/Conservative alliance crumbled in the House of Lords this afternoon. The Government won by 145 votes to 75. The reason for the turnaround was that during behind the scenes horse trading late last night, the Government offered an outright exemption to morris dancing, and a marginal concession for unamplified live music. This appeared to satisfy the Lib Dems who decided to vote with the Government. The letters to all Peers from the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Local Government Association opposing the exemption were also influential.

There were powerful speeches in support of the exemption from Baroness Buscombe, who led for the Conservatives, and Lord Colwyn. Significantly, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, the guru of human rights law, also spoke out strongly against the Government position. He warned that it was, in his view, disproportionate interference with the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention. He contrasted the level of licensing control with the exemption for big screen entertainment (as did Lord Colwyn, and Baroness Buscombe). He speculated whether Lord McIntosh, the Government spokesman, would in a court of law still say that the Government's position was proportionate.

Lord McIntosh did not answer that point, but said the Government had made a commitment to review the new Licensing Act 6-12 months after the Transition Period - which means in about 2 years' time. He also announced that a 'live music forum' would be set up by the DCMS to encourage maximum take-up of live music under the new rules.

As a formality, the Commons will ratify the Government amendments (probably next Tuesday 08 July) and the Bill should receive Royal Assent by 17 July.

So what will the Bill mean for live music?
It is anyone's guess whether it really will lead to a significant increase in employment opportunities for MU members, and/or new venues allowing amateur performance. A positive outcome will depend to a great extent on the proactive efforts of musicians, performers unions, and the music industry, to make the best of the new law.

What has been achieved?
When the Bill was published it proposed a blanket licensing requirement for almost all public performance and much private performance. All performers were potentially liable to criminal prosecution unless taking all reasonable precautions to ensure venues were licensed for their performance.

Lobbying has led to:

A complete exemption from any licensing requirement for regulated entertainment provided in a public place of religious worship.
A similar exemption for garden fetes and similar functions, provided they are not for private gain.
An exemption from licence fees for village halls and community premises, schools and sixth form colleges.
An exemption for the performance of live music (amplified or unamplified) anywhere, if it is 'incidental' to other activities such as eating and drinking (but not dancing, or another licensable entertainment).
An exemption from licence conditions (but NOT the licence itself) for unamplified live music in places such as bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants (i.e. where alcohol is sold for consumption on the premises) between 8am and midnight (subject to review, if, for example, this gives rise to problems for local residents).
A limitation on licence conditions for amplified music in pubs, bars etc (subject to the same review procedure above), restricting those conditions to public safety, crime and disorder only.
A complete exemption for morris dancing and similar, and any unamplified live music that is 'integral' to the performance.
An exemption from possible criminal prosecution for ordinary performers playing in unlicensed premises or at unlicensed events. Now only those responsible for organising such a performance are liable, this includes a bandleader or possibly a member of a band who brings an instrument for another player to use. There remains a 'due diligence' defence, however (taking all reasonable precautions first etc).
A clarification that at private events, where musicians are directly engaged by those putting on the event, this no longer triggers licensing (however there remains an ambiguity that if entertainment agents are engaged to provide the band, this does fall within the licensing regime).
In spite of all this, the Bill does mean 'none in a bar' is the starting point of the new licensing regime. Any public performance of live music provided to attract custom or make a profit, amplified or not, whether by one musician or more, is illegal unless licensed (other than in public places of religious worship or garden fetes etc). In the opinion of leading human rights lawyers, like Lord Lester, this remains a disproportionate interference with the right to freedom of expression - whatever the Government may say about how easy or cheap it is to get the licence. The point being that there is and never has been evidence of a problem sufficient to justify such interference. Why add new rules where there are enough already?

The Bill for the first time extends entertainment licensing across all private members clubs, and registered members clubs. It also captures private events, such as charity concerts, if they seek to make a profit - even for a good cause.

The Bill creates a new category of offence for the provision of unlicensed 'entertainment facilities', which would include musical instruments provided to members of the public for the purpose of entertaining themselves, let alone an audience.

However, the 'incidental' exemption could prove to be quite powerful, but that will depend to a great extent on how local authorities choose to interpret the provision. The Guidance that will accompany the Bill may become particularly important on that point, and others.

This is by no means an exhaustive analysis of the Bill's provisions for live music, but should serve as a summary.

My sincere thanks to all who have kept pace with these developments and lobbied their MPs, Peers and the press.


----- Original Message -----
From: Hamish Birchall
To: Hamish Birchall
Sent: Friday, June 27, 2003 5:52 PM
Subject: Small events exemption - doom, disaster and calamity?


During heated debate in the House of Commons debate last Tuesday (24 June 2003), Richard Caborn, the Minister replacing Kim Howells, predicted doom and disaster if the small events exemption were not overturned.
However, although they lost the vote, opposition MPs rejected the Government's arguments and warned that the issue would be taken up again by the Lords next Thursday, 3 July 2003.

The Government is now under considerable pressure to find a workable compromise, otherwise the Bill will 'ping pong' again, further delaying Royal Assent. The MU, Equity, EFDSS, the Arts Council, and the music industry have re-emphasised to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, their commitment to a small events exemption. The MU will be involved in further negotiations with DCMS next week.

A full transcript of the debate is available from Hansard:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmhansrd/cm030624/debtext/30624-42.htm#30624-42_head0

or

http://tinyurl.com/f9ei


Selected quotes:

Mr Caborn said that the exemption '.... would take public safety out of the hands of the experts and putting it in those of amateurs.'

He later added '... I urge this House to throw out Lords amendment No. 62A, which we believe to be dangerous and defective. Otherwise, the House will have to be held to account if there is a serious accident at a venue exempted from the proposed regulations, and if a death occurs as a result.'

This should greatly concern anyone planning to attend a music concert, or indeed any 'regulated entertainment', in a church. Presumably the House is already prepared to be held to account for any serious accident or death due to the complete exemption for places of public religious worship, garden fetes and similar functions (provided they are not-for-profit), comedy clubs, and tens of thousands of bars providing big screen entertainment.

David Heath (Lib Dem) was first to draw attention to the exemption for big screen broadcasts: 'I have just been mulling over what the Minister said about the fire risk incurred when music is being played. Would the risk be any less if the same people were watching a widescreen television, or simply drinking on the premises?'

A point later taken up by Malcolm Moss (Cons): 'The Minister puts great stress on public safety and of course we share his concern that nothing must be done that would endanger the public. However, will he explain the point already raised by the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (David Heath)? Why do the same considerations not apply in the case of a pub where 200 people may be watching a World Cup final on a large screen? Surely the same public safety issues would arise, yet they are not covered by the Bill.'

Mr Caborn replied simply: 'We do not take that judgment...' and went on to discuss the Government's substitute amendment which retained the licensing requirement, but disapplied conditions relating to noise or the protection of children from harm. He also discussed the recent letter from the Association of Chief Police Officers which paradoxically focussed not on pubs, but on premises that would not hold a licence for alcohol.

Mr Moss identified other entertainment licensing exemptions that undermine the Government's claims that only through entertainment licensing can public safety and the protection of children from harm be assured: 'A pub landlord could throw a party in his garden with fire eaters, knife throwers, a bouncy castle, cables trailing to an air compressor, and a powerful CD player and that would be exempt from entertainment licensing under the Bill. However, adding a featured, unamplified performance by a solo guitarist would be a criminal offence unless licensed.'

He added in relation to ACPO: '... Why, in ACPO's recent letter, does it not remind the Government of its written representations to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, warning that televised sporting events were quite frequently a source of disorder and should, in its view, be made licensable entertainments? Why has no notice of that been taken either in the letter from the police or by the Minister from Dispatch Box this evening?'

Nick Harvey (Lib Dem, Shadow Culture Minister) said: '... I listened the Minister's predictions of doom, disaster and calamities for public safety if we do not have entertainment licensing for all events, however modest their scale. I cast my mind north of the border to Scotland where there is no public entertainment licensing, yet I see no signs of the death, disease and pestilence that the Minister anticipates if we do not operate the regime in England. The Government have raised a completely false spectre.'

He should have said 'no public entertainment licensing for live music that is secondary to the main business of bars, pubs etc during permitted hours'. In other circumstances, public entertainment licensing is required in Scotland.


----- Original Message -----
From: Hamish Birchall
To: Hamish Birchall
Sent: Friday, January 03, 2003 11:39 AM
Subject: Licensing reform - public safety - a Magistrate's view

For circulation

Paul Vaughan is Chairman of the Magistrates' Association in Worcester and Chairman of the Worcester Three Choirs Festival. He has kindly provided me with his view of the Licensing Bill and has given permission to distribute this widely (it will be posted on to the MU website in due course).

Note particularly points 10 and 11 in relation to government arguments that the abolition of existing PEL exemptions is necessary for public safety reasons:

* * *

1) The Government has signalled its intention to remove from Magistrates their responsibility for licensing (broadly alcohol licensing).
2) We have been given no satisfactory reason for this.
3) Properly trained magistrates, formed into licensing committees, have been fulfilling, effectively, efficiently and diligently, a responsibility for licensing for many years. Sitting as a committee of at least three, we maintain that, among many other benefits, this system is corruption proof. I myself am a long-standing licensing chairman.
4) Magistrates hear cases on a daily basis, in which alcohol is cited as a reason for offences being committed. "Your worship, my client was in drink at the time . . ." is an almost daily mantra from defending solicitors. Therefore, there is good reason for Magistrates to continue to make their valuable input into this area of the law. We see the picture (usually in full Technicolor!) from all angles.
5) Magistrates are volunteers. Therefore, all licensing activity by Magistrates has been carried out for countless years very inexpensively, or on an expenses only basis. Apart from full day licensing courts, in the past, it has not been unusual for us to work well into the night on visits to licensed premises; this for no payment whatsoever (apart from the reimbursement of petrol expenses).
6) Local authorities are, in general, delighted to have more powers, and have readily accepted the notion of taking over alcohol licensing, but clearly, they are not going to take over all those responsibilities (formerly the Magistrates') without additional budgetary provision. My Association believes that the costings for setting up new council posts, support staff and so on to cope with the new burden are considerable.
7) We venture to suggest that the imposition of fees on music performance - across the board, from one man in a pub to 500 in a cathedral, is the result of a simple fiscal imperative. Money is needed to enable the councils to take over licensing work from the Magistrates. This has to be generated somehow.
8) Clearly the Government is not going to provide all, if any, of the additional monies necessary and being demanded as a prerequisite by Local Authorities, from central funds ! How simple therefore to impose fees on music - citing health and safety as the plank (or do I mean sieve?) upon which to sail this one up the river.
9) Should this Bill be allowed to proceed - even in an ameliorated form (for example with much reduced fees) - let there be no mistake, once the Bill is enacted, fees would be later variable at a stroke, in an upwards only direction.
10) There has never been a health and safety issue with the Three Choirs Festival Concerts we have been putting on in Worcester, Hereford or Gloucester Cathedrals for the past 275 years, or indeed with those huge number of events which take place as part of the Fringe throughout the City and County. We are already carefully regulated by bodies such as the Fire Brigade, which limits the number of seats we may set out in the Cathedrals, and the disposition of those seats. There has never been an audience placed in peril in our Cathedrals and, to the best of my knowledge, in any other Cathedral in the land. Why then, this sudden rush to "protect the public"?
11) This is 'Yes Minister' politics at play and has nothing to do with public protection.
12) Deregulate licensing by all means - carefully and judiciously - but leave it in the hands of the Magistracy - which have proven themselves safe over many years.

(By way of a postscript, I should add that, as a long-serving magistrate, I am only too aware of the correlation between alcohol and crime. But the practice of tipping all drinkers onto the streets at 11.15pm - many of them having accelerated their intake of alcohol substantially between 10.30pm and 11pm in some sort of race to the bell - is clearly not in the public interest. Many of the tipees are then unable to get into the night clubs (eg. can't afford price of admission, are too drunk, wrong attire/footwear etc) and it is then that the troubles begin. The cost of policing all of this is very high. Ask any police force where the majority of their manpower is disposed between 10.45pm and 2.30am? So, personally, I am very much for the ending of those regulations (permitted hours) which, after all, were originally imposed during WW1 to ensure that munitions workers arrived relatively sober and rested at the munitions factories the next morning. Let people drink up and go home when they please and allow pubs to close when the landlord realises that there are not enough people on the premises to make staying open viable).

With all good wishes
Paul Vaughan
Chairman
The Three Choirs Festival - Worcester
and
Chairman - The Magistrates' Association (Worcestershire)


LATEST IN THE 2 in a Bar Struggle..!

Contact your MP, asking him to support this Early Day Motion for reform of the entertainment licensing act. - Stephen

In message, Hamish Birchall <ham.drum@virgin.net> writes

94 MPs have now signed David Heath's public entertainment licence Early Day Motion 1182.

Only about 400 MPs are eligible to sign EDMs so this is a very significant level of support. If you are experiencing two in a bar problems in your area, the local press may now be more interested in
covering the story, linking it to EDM 1182. If your MP has signed so much the better.

Has your MP signed? Check using the link below:
http://edm.ais.co.uk/weblink/html/motion.html/ref=1182

Parliament is in recess from next Monday (27 May) returning on Monday 10 June, so the total may not rise as steeply as it has done over the last two weeks.

Fax your MP direct from www.faxyourmp.com or write c/o House of Commons, London SW1AOAA

>Please pass this message on to other musicians interested in the public entertainment licence issue. Thanks again to those of you who have already contacted your MP about this.

--
Stephen Kellett http://www.objmedia.demon.co.uk

IMPORTANT..!

Contact your MP, asking him to support this Early Day Motion for reform of the entertainment licensing act. - Stephen

In message, Hamish Birchall <ham.drum@virgin.net> writes

94 MPs have now signed David Heath's public entertainment licence Early Day Motion 1182.

Only about 400 MPs are eligible to sign EDMs so this is a very significant level of support. If you are experiencing two in a bar problems in your area, the local press may now be more interested in
covering the story, linking it to EDM 1182. If your MP has signed so much the better.

Has your MP signed? Check using the link below:
http://edm.ais.co.uk/weblink/html/motion.html/ref=1182

Parliament is in recess from next Monday (27 May) returning on Monday 10 June, so the total may not rise as steeply as it has done over the last two weeks.

Fax your MP direct from www.faxyourmp.com or write c/o House of Commons, London SW1AOAA

Please pass this message on to other musicians interested in the public entertainment licence issue. Thanks again to those of you who have already contacted your MP about this.

--
Stephen Kellett http://www.objmedia.demon.co.uk

ELY AND THE ENTERTAINMENT LAW..!

No more than two...

From 21st February 2002 only the same two performers will be allowed during the course of an evening's entertainment in bars and restaurants that don't hold a public entertainment licence (PEL).

In a judgement at the High Court it was decided that the two-in-a-bar rule, which applies in over 111,000 liquor-licensed premises in England and Wales, must be interpreted as strictly as possible. This means that if a pianist and a singer are playing, it becomes a criminal offence for licensees to allow another singer (or indeed any other musician) to do a turn. Unless, of course, a PEL is first obtained from the local authority.

MIDI also implicated...


The High Court judgement also ruled that MIDI files constitute 'recorded sound'. Under the two-in-a-bar rule (s 182.1 of the Licensing Act 1964) no combination of 'recorded sound' and live performer is allowed without a PEL being in force. The implication is that use of MIDI files during a live performance, even if only one live performer is involved, will be illegal unless the premises is covered by a PEL.

The case (London Borough of Southwark v Sean Toye) arose when Southwark successfully prosecuted former landlord Sean Toye for allowing karaoke without a PEL in September 1999. The karaoke manufacturer funded the landlord's defence because, he argued, the MIDI files in use did not count as 'recorded sound' as usually understood, and therefore the s 182 exemption should apply.

This frustrating judgement may, in the end, speed up reform. I hope that David Heath MP will be able to raise it in the House of Commons during his adjournment debate on reform of PELs (Wed 27 February).


Take a look at this nonsense!!! Importance: High - Steve

-----Original Message-----
From: Mary Dickinson, Everyman Folk Club
[mailto:everyman@wheatstone.co.uk]
Sent: 26 February 2002 18:26
To: everyman@wheatstone.co.uk

Subject: Two In a Bar Rule - you can help..!

Dear All

Firstly, apologies for sending this round-robin email - please accept the impersonal nature of this. The 'Two in a Bar' rule was enforced by an appeal court last week, making it illegal for more than 2 people to sing in a bar on any one occasion. The maximum penalty is a fine of £20,000 and a 6 month prison sentence - unbelievable.

The ruling was such that anyone joining in with impromptu music in a pub session or club is deemed to be a 'performer' - so more than one person joining in with a chorus song is against the law! To try and overturn this nonsense, folkies and friends of folkies everywhere are being asked to contact their MP now ... keep reading, it's easy.

Below is a quote from Hamish Birchall of CaLM, the live music campaign in Camden, which is self-explanatory. If you can spare a few minutes to send an email/fax to your MP using the link below,
you might help the folk tradition remain a living tradition.

It would be helpful if you would re-word the standard letter though, as many MPs ignore numerous copies of a 'standard' letter.

Apologies again - hope you aren't offended by this intrusion
on your time.

Best wishes,
Mary

Mary Dickinson
Everyman Folk Club
everyman@wheatstone.co.uk
http://www.wheatstone.co.uk/EFChome.htm

======================================
*Quoted*

It is vital that as many MPs as possible contribute to the Parliamentary debate tomorrow (27th) on reform of public entertainment licensing. The more MPs that participate the more likely it is that the debate will be reported in the press and on television. Media coverage is essential to raise public awareness and to convince the Government that this issue cannot be ignored.

You can fax your MP quickly and easily from the web via this very useful free service: www.faxyourmp.com

Here is a suggested draft text to adapt as you see fit:

Dear Sir/Madam

Tomorrow (27 Feb) David Heath MP will lead an adjournment debate in the Commons on reform of public entertainment licensing. This legislation regulates public access to live music and dance throughout England and Wales. But the law is in a mess. Its draconian interpretation and enforcement by local authorities threatens to kill off any form of spontaneous music and dance.

In a traditionally liberal and tolerant democracy it may be difficult to accept that harmless music-making or dance is treated so harshly. But the fact is that 95% of licensees would be committing a criminal
offence this evening if they allowed a trio or quartet to perform on their premises, or one person to dance. Even Morris dancing in a pub car park, or garden would be illegal. That is because only 5% licensees currently hold a public entertainment licence. The maximum penalty for unlicensed entertainment is a
£20,000 fine and six months in prison.

An Appeal Court ruling last week makes the situation even worse (London Borough of Southwark v Sean Toye, Adminstrative Court, 21.2.2). Without a public entertainment licence it will now be illegal for
licensees to allow one singer to replace another in a duo, or for a solo pianist to perform after a duo. Members of the public will now count as 'performers' if they sing along for their own amusement. This is undoubtedly bad law, but it is strictly enforced across the country.

What does this imply for Golden Jubilee celebrations? Will thousands of licensees face heavy fines and a jail sentence for allowing parents to dance with their children in a pub garden?

Can I ask that you participate in tomorrow's debate and encourage the Government to take immediate action.

Yours faithfully

Take a look at this nonsense!!!
Steve -----Original Message-----
From: Mary Dickinson, Everyman Folk Club [mailto:everyman@wheatstone.co.uk] Sent: 26 February 2002 18:26
To: everyman@wheatstone.co.uk
Subject: Two In a Bar Rule - you can help tonight Importance: High

Dear All Firstly, apologies for sending this round-robin email - please accept the impersonal nature of this.

The 'Two in a Bar' rule was enforced by an appeal court last week, making it illegal for more than 2 people to sing in a bar on any one occasion.
The maximum penalty is a fine of 20,000 and a 6 month prison sentence - unbelievable.
The ruling was such that anyone joining in with impromptu music in a pub session or club is deemed to be a 'performer' - so more than one person joining in with a chorus song is against the law!
To try and overturn this nonsense, folkies and friends of folkies everywhere are being asked to contact their MP now ... keep reading, it's easy.

Below is a quote from Hamish Birchall of CaLM, the live music campaign in Camden, which is self-explanatory. If you can spare a few minutes to send an email/fax to your MP using the link below, you might help the folk tradition remain a living tradition. It would be helpful if you would re-word the standard letter though, as many MPs ignore numerous copies of a 'standard' letter. Apologies again - hope you aren't offended by this intrusion on your time.

Best wishes,

Mary Mary Dickinson Everyman Folk Club everyman@wheatstone.co.uk
http://www.wheatstone.co.uk/EFChome.htm

======================================

*Quoted*
It is vital that as many MPs as possible contribute to the Parliamentary debate tomorrow (27th) on reform of public entertainment licensing. The more MPs that participate the more likely it is that the debate will be reported in the press and on television.
Media coverage is essential to raise public awareness and to convince the Government that this issue cannot be ignored. You can fax your MP quickly and easily from the web via this very useful free service: www.faxyourmp.com

Here is a suggested draft text to adapt as you see fit:

Dear Sir/Madam Tomorrow (27 Feb) David Heath MP will lead an adjournment debate in the Commons on reform of public entertainment licensing. This legislation regulates public access to live music and dance throughout England and Wales.
But the law is in a mess..!
Its draconian interpretation and enforcement by local authorities threatens to kill off any form of spontaneous music and dance. In a traditionally liberal and tolerant democracy it may be difficult to accept that harmless music-making or dance is treated so harshly. But the fact is that 95% of licensees would be committing a criminal offence this evening if they allowed a trio or quartet to perform on their premises, or one person to dance.

Even Morris dancing in a pub car park, or garden would be illegal..!
That is because only 5% licensees currently hold a public entertainment licence.

The maximum penalty for unlicensed entertainment is a 20,000 fine and six months in prison.


An Appeal Court ruling last week makes the situation even worse (London Borough of Southwark v Sean Toye, Adminstrative Court, 21.2.2). Without a public entertainment licence it will now be illegal for licensees to allow one singer to replace another in a duo, or for a solo pianist to perform after a duo.

Members of the public will now count as 'performers' if they sing along for their own amusement.

This is undoubtedly bad law, but it is strictly enforced across the country.

What does this imply for Golden Jubilee celebrations?
Will thousands of licensees face heavy fines and a jail sentence for allowing parents to dance with their children in a pub garden?

Can I ask that you participate in tomorrow's debate and encourage the Government to take immediate action.

0843 289 2147

 

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