I spoke to two people this morning who are involved with lobbying to get a small gigs exemption to the 2003 Licensing Act. They are both palpably disappointed.
The Culture Select Committe had recommended that there needs to be a workable exemption. The Committee wanted to stop those councils which want to be repressive from using the unnecessary and disproportionate powers to stop/criminalize small scale live music which the 2003 Licensing Act gives them.
The DCMS has dealt with the Committe's recommendations with this killer sentence:
'... DCMS has considered exemptions for small venues, but has not been able to reach agreement on exemptions that will deliver an increase in live music whilst still retaining essential protections for local residents.'
Well the stuff in the picture above is called miscanthus giganteus. To you and me it's very long grass.
Both people I spoke to confirmed that the long grass is precisely where any meaningful changes to the 2003 Act (it's the Act which changed British drinking culture for the good, made us all much more responsible, remember) for the benefit of musicians has just been kicked -
until beyond the next election.
Over to Feargal Sharkey of UKMusic
“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”.
“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’”.