The following from Hamish Birchall. Please circulate
A new online live music petition was started yesterday on the Number 10 website by folk musician Dominic Cronin: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/licensing/#detail
'We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to recognise that music and dance should not be restricted by burdensome licensing regulations. The recently introduced changes in licensing law have produced an environment where music and dance, activities which should be valued and promoted in a civilised society, are instead damaged by inappropriate regulation. We call on the Prime Minister to recognise this situation and take steps to correct it.'
The wording is not ideal, but I would urge you to sign. The government may respond 'licensing is not burdensome, and research shows no damage to live music and dance'. This is spin. Ministers said the new Act would be 'much better for live music'. But about 40% of bars have lost their previous automatic entitlement to one or two musicians, and yet are free to continue providing recorded music or broadcast entertainment with unlimited amplification. Despite the banter in Parliament, the government is extremely concerned about public opinion on this issue. It must be damaging that in so many circumstances, organising live music could be a crime. The Act defines premises as 'any place' - it can apply almost anywhere, not just in pubs or bars.
The maximum penalty for providing unlicensed live music, where a licence is required, is a £20,000 fine and six months in prison. This is a greater penalty than is available for:
Violent disorder, affray, harassment, bomb hoax, stirring up racial hatred;
Various assaults, including wounding, actual bodily harm, and assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty;
Burglary, theft, handling stolen goods, deception, forgery, 'taking and driving away';
Arson, criminal damage; Intimidation of witnesses, wasting police time;
Possessing a controlled drug, supplying a controlled drug and intent;
Dangerous driving, driving with excess alcohol in the blood, breath or urine;
Carrying a loaded firearm in a public place;
and Official Secrets Act offences.