Supplementary Memorandum from Feargal Sharkey, CEO, UK Music

 

Enclosed is a letter UK Music has sent to DCMS Minister, Gerry Sutcliffe following his appearance in front of your Committee's inquiry into the effects of the Licensing Act 2003.

 

I am intrigued that Andrew Cunningham says DCMS has evidence to show that live music gives rise to public disorder.

 

The relationship between live music and its effects on the local environment is absolutely crucial to the decisions made by authorities on how to regulate intended musical events and performances.

 

In my knowledge there has never been evidence that makes the direct link assumed by Andrew Cunningham in front of your Committee.

 

If we receive evidence from the DCMS we will immediately share it with the Committee. Likewise, we'd ask that the Committee share with us any similar evidence it receives.

 

Letter from Feargal Sharkey, CEO, UK Music, to Rt Hon Gerry Sutcliffe MP,

Following your appearance in front of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee inquiry into the effects of the Licensing Act 2003 I would like to ask for clarification on points raised during your evidence session.

When asked by the Committee's Chairman, Mr John Whittingdale if you consider that disorder is a factor when judging applications for live music, you said it was a contributing factor.

Your colleague, Mr Andrew Cunningham, Head of Licensing at the DCMS, went further and said: "There is evidence that certain live music performances do give rise to disorder."

 

After many years of being involved in the implementation and analysis of the Licensing Act, I have yet to see any evidence that directly links live music with public disorder. In fact, the evidence I have seen shows the opposite. Letters from Chief Constables from all over the UK were given in evidence to the same Select Committee hearing by John Smith, General Secretary of the Musicians Union, which propose quite the opposite.

 

UK Music and its members would be very keen to see this evidence so if you could please let us have it at your earliest convenience I would be grateful.

 

Secondly, neither you nor Andrew Cunningham thought it reasonable for the police to be collecting personal information from musicians in their determination of whether a licence could be granted or not. Yet you also say that you are not going to review the guidance that is allowing police and local authorities to misinterpret the Act.

 

If the guidance is not to be updated, then it is of utmost importance to musicians and live music in the UK that the promised consultation on introducing an exemption for smaller venues is announced at the earliest possible date.

 

Would you be able to give me an idea of when an announcement will be made from the Department and what kind of timetable you are considering for implementation?

 

We have been waiting a year for this consultation. We have not had a reply to the letter we wrote to the Secretary of State in September to ask about progress on this front. We are beginning to think that some in your Department do not agree with you when you say: "We are obviously trying to work to make sure that the intentions of the Act are delivered and that we wanted to see an increase in live music."

 

Our members want to be kept informed of all the positive steps you are taking to make the Licensing Act work to promote not stifle live music.

 

November 2008