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Norwich publicans back move to scrap music licences

PUBLISHED: 09:14 18 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:31 02 July 2010

Tracey Gray

Pub landlords in Norwich have backed proposals to make it easier to host live music events.

Under current legislation, any venue wanting to host live music - from small halls to restaurants and pubs to record shops - must obtain a premises licence, club premises certificate or temporary event notice.

Pub landlords in Norwich have backed proposals to make it easier to host live music events.

Under current legislation, any venue wanting to host live music - from small halls to restaurants and pubs to record shops - must obtain a premises licence, club premises certificate or temporary event notice.

Organisers without a licence risk criminal prosecution with a potential six months in prison or £20,000 fine.

On Friday, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Tim Clement-Jones held a debate in the House of Lords on his Live Music Bill which aims to amend the Licensing Act 2003.

The Bill proposes that schools, hospitals, colleges and venues up to a capacity of 200 should not need a licence for a live music performance.

It also asks that the “two-in-a-bar” exemption, which allowed any size of venue to host unamplified music by one or two people, should be reinstated into the Licensing Act - something Lord Clement-Jones said would help boost local pubs which could pull in more customers with live music.

The calls for change have been supported by pub landlords across the city.

Nick De'Ath, landlord of the Unthank Arms in Newmarket Street, Norwich, and vice-chair of Norwich City Licensing Forum, said: “It would provide a major boost because it would let pubs put on different events.

“The main thing is the people have to be responsible. If you have a venue and are putting on a heavy metal band every night you are going to annoy your neighbours, as opposed to having a Sunday afternoon acoustic set. It is just about being responsible.”

Colin Keatley, who runs The Fat Cat pub in West End Street in the city, said: “What a lot of politicians are failing to realise is that the pub industry at the moment is on its knees. One by one all the attractions which pubs used to have are being taken away.

“It is nice to see for a change a politician doing something to try and help pubs.

“This bill would definitely help local pubs and it is about time they came up with other ideas to help promote pubs.”

The Live Music Bill progressed in the Upper House when peers voted to send it a committee of the whole house.

Summing up, Lord Clement-Jones told the House: “Small venues are vitally important to Britain's creative culture. Many successful musicians got their first break gigging in pubs or student unions. But the cost and time of applying for a licence means fewer small spaces are prepared to put on live music.

“Without these changes, we risk suffocating our live music scene in red tape.”

The government announced at the beginning of this month its own new consultation reviewing the 2003 Licensing Act with a view to removing the licensing requirements for concerts with fewer than 100 attendees. The consultation ends on March 23.

*The Evening News is running its own Love Your Local campaign to encourage people to support their favourite pubs by highlighting all that is good about them, including the positive impact they have on the community.

To see previous stories from the Love Your Local Campaign, visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk

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