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Norwich pubs look set to receive live music boost

Landlady Sally Cooke at the Blueberry in Norwich; Photo: Bill Smith

Landlady Sally Cooke at the Blueberry in Norwich; Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2011

Live music at Norwich pubs is already thriving but it could soon get another boost if government plans are introduced to allow venues to host gigs without a licence.

At present pubs across the country must apply for entertainment licences from their local authorities, which costs money and takes time.

But under the new plans pubs and clubs wanting to offer live music would no longer be forced to apply to the local council, with small venues set to save on average £1,600 a year.

The news comes after the Brickmakers in Sprowston Road was named the ‘Best Live Music pub’ in the country in The Great British Pub Awards 2011, which are known as the Oscars of the industry.

The planned deregulation aimed at supporting grassroots music has been welcomed by publicans in the city.

Sally Cooke, landlady at the Blueberry Music House in Cowgate, off Magdalen Street, which hosts live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, said: “I’m not sure exactly how much it costs us to apply for and get a licence from the council, as head office does it, but anything that’s going to save money and time has got to be good. There are lots of up and coming local bands in the city, and on weekends we have trouble fitting everyone in.”

The Rose in Queens Road offers open-mic sessions and landlady Dawn Hopkins also welcomed the proposals.

She said: “It will save pubs money but just as importantly for me, it will cut down on the number of hours we work. Filling in form after form takes extra time that you cannot always spare, so any reduction in the 70 hours I already work, would be appreciated.”

The proposal is part of a government consultation to be unveiled by John Penrose, the tourism and heritage minister, amid warnings that small venues have been abandoning live music because of the bureaucracy introduced by the 2003 Licensing Act.

Feargal Sharkey, chief executive of UK Music, which represents the UK’s commercial music industry, said: “We’re optimistic that this will be positive news for the industry, and especially for emerging talent.”

Schools are also likely to benefit from the rules, as the requirement for an entertainment licence covers any public performance where tickets are sold. Ministers are expected to legislate for the changes at the earliest opportunity, but it is unclear when the deregulation would come into effect.

The Evening News has been supporting pubs in our Love Your Local campaign. To see more stories from the campaign visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk/loveyourlocal.

What do you think of the plans? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.


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