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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Richard Bridge (cookie and format C) Killed by the PEL system Part 2 (93* d) RE: Killed by the PEL system Part 2 14 Oct 02

As just sent to my MP (I've been busy)

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard McD. Bridge []
Sent: 14 October 2002 11:01
To: Marshallandrewsr
Subject: Government Ban on Folk music

Dear Mr Marshall-Andrews

I have recently heard of further local authority attacks on acoustic folk music. These are by no means the first.

I entirely support the goverment's efforts to ensure that electrically amplified music is properly controlled to prevent noise and social disturbance to those living near pubs - but the fact of the matter is that there is no equivalent case to control acoustic unamplified music. Unamplified music is not like amplified music.

It does not create enough noise to need noise control.
There appears to be no (sic, no!) documented case of antisocial behaviour of any kind at or in connection with an entirely acoustic music event.
It does not attract the hurly burly of crowds to necessitate special safety measures, and, in any event, pubs should be safe up to their licensed maximum capacity (and yes, the law does permit the setting of maximum capacities, do not believe assertions to the contrary), so folk music in pubs does not need any kind of safety regulation.

The current goverment plans will enable local authorities to insist on measures being put in place as a condition of a licence for premises with an operating plan including acoustic music. These local authorities are the same local authorities who are closing down acoustic music venues at the moment. Their tendency and instinct is towards regulation.

The government says that it will create statutorily enforceable codes of conduct to prevent local authority over-regulation. This is not an answer to folk music's problem. If a local authority becomes over-zealous (and history teaches that that is extremely likely to happen) then it will refuse a licence for premises inclusing acoustic music in their operating plan until specifed measures are put into effect. The landlord or pub chain has a stark choice: -
1.        Shut
2.        Remove acoustic music from the operating plan
3.        Comply and bear the cost of the measures; or
4.        Litigate.

As a lawyer you will be able to predict the relative impact of the cost (and risk) of litigation on, on the one hand, the landlord or brewery and, on the other hand, the local authority. To the former it is a matter of life-and-death or a substantial provision in the accounts. To the latter it is a mere bagatelle.

This is not a matter of speculation. It is a matter of experience. User groups of rights of way are, by reference to costs risks, regularly oppressed by local authorities and prevented from obtaining their statutory rights.

Accordingly it is wholly predictable that the new licensing regime, as it stands proposed, will add to the costs of presentation of folk music. It will evidently tend to damage it. My experience is that it is likely to destroy folk music as a living art form. Much the same applies to folk dance, although the difficulties of definition are greater there.

To promote a scheme with such effect is not a proper exercise of power by a ministry of culture. It will in fact be harmful to the British cultural heritage, and it will also be harmful to the wider social environment.

I appreciate you are busy with the Cliffe Airport proposal which also greatly concerns me, but I should value knowing of your continued support on this issue.

Yours sincerely

Richard McD. Bridge

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