Jenny Willott MP signs petition to PM to stop criminalising live music with the Licensing Act

August 27, 2009 3:49 PM

Welsh Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, Jenny Willott, today added her voice to the campaign to support amendments to the Licensing Act. The amendments, backed by the 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 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 the mildest live music can be costly and time-consuming.

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

Jenny Willott MP said, "This campaign has my full backing. 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. Grassroots music venues must be allowed to flourish, and not be held back by needless bureaucracy".

There are nearly 7,500 signatures on the Number 10 petition. The petition can be found here http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/livemusicevents/.

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