No License Help For Smaller Venues

Asking at what point does someone within government become brave enough to acknowledge that it is time to raise a hand, admit they have it wrong and fix it is a familiar question in the U.K.

On this occasion, it was U.K. Music chief Feargal Sharkey complaining about licensing laws.

He was speaking after the government failed to accept recommendations made by a parliamentary committee for culture, media and sport, which has said venues with capacities of less than 200 shouldn’t be required to obtain music licenses.

The government also refused to back the select committee’s call to abolish Form 696, a risk-assessment form that London police requests promoters and licensees to complete and submit 14 days in advance of their events. The committee said it imposes “unreasonable conditions on events” and should be scrapped, but various high-ranking London policemen have defended its use.

Sharkey and his U.K. Music organization are disappointed by the government’s stance, particularly at a time when the British music industry is facing significant recessionary pressure. The government’s own research indicates a 5 percent decrease in the number of venues available to aspiring young musicians and performers.

“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 discussion group,” Sharkey complained. “What is most surprising is that British music must now rely on opposition parties to support the future of our industry. That is why tomorrow we will be supporting the introduction of the Liberal Democrat Live Music Bill.

“This is opposition legislation specifically designed to tackle the key issues in the Licensing Act 2003; key issues which damage our industry and which provide a platform for the unattractive and immoral principles of Form 696.”