Boost to Norwich pubs and live music

Cash-strapped Norwich publicans could soon save money and time by staging live music without the need to get a licence.

The live music bill that passed the House of Commons on Friday is set to cut the red tape around live music and save publicans thousands of pounds a year.

Under the bill pubs with a capacity of 200 persons or fewer will be exempt from the need to obtain a licence from the local council for live music before 11pm.

The planned deregulation aimed at supporting grassroots music has been welcomed by publicans in the city, who are set to save on average �1,600 a year.

It has also been welcomed by musicians across the city who are already taking advantage of a thriving live music scene.

Claire Wilson, who runs the Walnut Tree Shades in Norwich city centre, said: 'It makes a nice change for the government to be doing something positive rather than something that is going to hit pubs.

'It's quite a lengthy and costly process to get an application from the council. We will continue to host live music every week and long into the future.'

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Sue Coleman, who runs the Stanley in Magdalen Road, also welcomed the news. She said: 'It's good news for pubs and the live music industry in Norwich. It's a win-win. We do have a fabulous live music scene in Norwich, and hopefully this will help it to continue.'

Dan Searle, who runs the Rumsey Wells, which offers live music, added that it would help them 'push' live music at the St Andrew's Street pub.

And Ben Shallcross, who took over as landlord at the Champion in Chapel Field Road last November, said he might now introduce live music at the venue.

The news is also a shot in the arm to bands in the city with potentially more venues to play at.

Pete Triumph, who is in the Norwich band Electricity, which plays at The Fat Cat Brewery Tap in West End Street on Friday, January 27, and the B2 venue in Sprowston Road the following night, said: 'The more venues that can stage live music in Norwich, the better.

'I know a lot of smaller venues have been put off the thought of having live music, due to all the red tape involved. This new bill should be very encouraging for access to live music as a whole and give a real boost to the pub trade.'

Nigel Potter, who plays drums with Norwich band, Black River Falls, who play at the B2 alongside Electricity on January 28, said: 'It's good news for the music scene in Norwich. There are literally hundreds of bands in Norwich, and this will, hopefully, give more a chance to get a gig at a pub in the city.

'Putting restrictions on live music kills it, and means everyone listens to recorded music. This will hopefully mean that more pubs stage live music.

'Norwich has always been a serious music city, and it was the first place to host Radio One's Sound City in 1992.'

The British Beer & Pub Association described the passage of the bill through the Commons as a 'terrific result'.

BBPA Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds said: 'This really is music to our ears.

'Pubs are where live music begins – and for years, we've been saying that many of the regulations surrounding it are unnecessary – they have prevented publicans from making the most of Britain's pubs as the place where live music acts first get a foothold.

'Well done to MPs for voting this through – let's make it the first of many measures to cut the red tape surrounding pubs.'

Amendments agreed in the Commons will have to return to the Lords, but the BBPA will be pressing for implementation as quickly as possible.

The Evening News has been supporting pubs in our Love Your Local campaign. To see more stories from the campaign visit

Are you in a Norwich band that is making national inroads? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email