Greg opposes control freak Labour government on live music

August 27, 2009 3:45 PM

Newcastle East Lib Dem spokesman Greg Stone is getting behind the campaign to support amendments to the Licensing Act. The amendments, backed by the backbench Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and the music industry, would exempt most small scale performances in schools, hospitals and licensed premises.

Under the Licensing Act, a performance by one musician in a bar, a restaurant, school or hospital not licensed for live music could lead to a criminal prosecution of those organising the event. Even a piano in a restaurant may count as a licensable 'entertainment facility'. By contrast, amplified big screen broadcast is exempt.

The control-freak Labour Government says the Act is necessary to control noise nuisance, crime, disorder and public safety.

Musicians have warned the Act would harm small events. About 50% of bars and 75% of restaurants have no live music permission. Obtaining permission for even occasional "unplugged" live music can be costly and time-consuming.

In May, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee recommended exemptions for venues up to 200-person capacity and for unamplified performance by one or two musicians. The government ignored these recommendations.

Greg Stone said, "I fully back this campaign. Lib Dems believe it is unfair to expect small venues to spend time and money obtaining a license just to have one musician in for one evening. During the current economic climate, small businesses are suffering, and for them to carry this burden on top of any current struggles is absurd. The government must make the system fairer. Vibrant music venues, such as those in the Ouseburn, must be allowed to flourish, and not be held back by needless bureaucracy".

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