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byDave Cross

The 2003 Licensing Act will affect most people working in the Arts in England and Wales.
Licensing will become the responsibility of Local Authorities.
On 10th July 2003 the Licensing Act recieved "Royal Ascent" which means it will become law as it is now written.
Much of the detail is found in the Guidelines which were published in March 04 and confirmed by parliament in June 04.

Before the new Act comes into force, there will be a transition period of at least nine months, which is likely to be from February 2005 until November 2005.
In response to lobbying, the Government agreed to a variation of the exemption for small venues (smaller than 200 capacity).

the2003 Licensing Act- its Effect on the Arts(See HMSO website)
Note: Guidelines cannot override the actual wording of the Act.

It is part of a programme of measures brought about following a White Paper called "Time for Reform". Although it has been drafted and piloted through government by DCMS, it was actually the Home Office's concern for public order (dis-order) coupled with the New Labour cool-Britannia wish to promote the cultural and leisure industries which drove this reform. Its objectives are Public order and safety, the prevention of nuisance and child protection.

It affects most people working in the Arts in England and Wales - and will affect very many people working in Performance Arts.It covers the sale of alcohol, live performances (live and recorded music, dance, drama), film in cinemas, theatres, clubs (working mens clubs, British Leigon etc.), late night refreshments/cafes, indoor sport and other entertainments.It does not cover the viewing of sport (or music) on TV in pubs, nor automated "digital juke boxes".
Gambling law was recently reformed by its own new Act.

The 2003 Licensing Act replaces a raft of idiosyncratic legislation (some dating back for centuries) which is currently enforced by a number of Acts, Bye Laws and case Law. This will all be replaced by one Act and those published Guidelines.

Currently, most licences are issued by local Licensing Magistrates, whose judgements are notoriously inconsistent across England and Wales. Magistrates take advice from the Police and Local Authority and usually require additional certification of Fire Safety and other standards of safety which must be met.
Note: Fire Certificates will shortly cease to be issued under separate legislation.

Under the new Act, licences for alcohol, entertainment etc. will be issued by the Local Authority. The Council's Licensing Committee will be obliged to consider representations from the public and outside bodies, and their own Planning and Environmental Health Depts.

The one application form will cover the person to be responsible for the Licence, the sale of alcohol, the layout of the premises, the forms of entertainment that are to be provided, the hours and days to be licensed and a statement of the policy to be adopted to deal with crime, public order, nuisance and the protection of children. It will be called aPremises Licence.
In addition, each licenced premises where alcohol is to be sold, will need to have an approved person in charge, someone who holds aPersonal Licence. Personal Licence holders will have to have gained a recognised qualification showing their suitability for holding a licence, tho current Licencees will not have to pass the examination.

There was been a lot of publicity aimed at the impact of the Bill on live music - Generator are broadly supportive of those concerns - It is regrettable that the penalties accruing to the illicit sale of alcohol would also accrue to ad hoc singing.
Penalties for violations may lead to severe penalties from the Courts - up to £20,000 and six months imprisonment.
The government accepted that in smaller venues (with under 200 capacity) there is not the same need to control disorder and has made some exemptions in respect of nuisance noise and child protection. If only unamplified music is performed in such a venue then much of the rest of the Act's requirements will also be lifted. In both cases, where there has been problems of complaints, then conditions lifted by these exemptions can be re-imposed.

Local Authorities will loose income from the issue of the current PELs (Public Entertainment Licences).
PEL's currently cost up to £5k or more, depending where in the Country the Court is.
It is expected that Licenses will now cost between £50 - £150. Prices may rise in future years.
They will be required to consult widely to ensure that the views of interested parties, including residents, are taken into account. Councillors and council officers will be required to adhere to new policies which avoid them being influenced by Licence applicants (that might be their local pub landlord!).
They will loose some of the freedom to "zone" their area, in favour of "consistency" across their area.

Critics have also noted that the risks to the public in vast majority of cases of "entertainments" which need to be licensed are adequately covered byexisting legislation- Environmental Health, Health and Safety at Work, the Noise Act, Building Regs, Electrical Installation Regs, - all of these are primary legislation which can already be used to prosecute dangerous venues.

All these controls remain in place, tho small venues which maybe did not hold a PEL will now be required to produce a crime prevention and public order policy statement.
Local Authorities will be able, if the wish, to impose general conditions which will apply to all premises in their area. (An example of this may be that they insist that all premises to be licenced for live music must have registered door supervisors).
The Small Venue exemption applying to certain venues with under 200 capacity will remove that sort of general condidtion from small venues offering only unamplified music up to midnight.

There has been fear and anxiety by venues who fear that the cost of theirinsuranceswill rise or become unobtainable as a consequence of "self assessment" of Safety matters. This remains to be seen.

Applying for a Licence
On the Licenceapplication form, applicants will have to indicate if they wish the premises to be licensed for entertainment at the same time as they apply for their alcohol licence.
The LA will not be certifying venues, and neither will the fire brigade. Existing Health and Safety legislation will still apply, and additionally, it will be the venue owner's/manager's responsibility to ensure that all works are to the appropriate standards (Building Regs, Electrical Installation Regs, Fire Regs, Noise at work Regs, Health & Safety etc).

When applying for new Licences, the applicants will have to provide an "Operating Schedule" which describes what they propose doing in the premises and how the premises will be managed. These Schedules will have to show how the applicant intends to meet the four "Licensing Objectives". These are:
  • the prevention of crime and disorder,
  • public safety,
  • the prevention of public nuisance,
  • the protection of children from harm.

Local Authorities may approve Licence Applications, refuse them, or alter the terms applied for. If the applicant is not satisfied with the decision, they canappealto theMagistrates Court.

The two in a bar rule will end. (This allowed up to two performers to entertain without the need for a PEL). The MU refers to the new Act as "none in a bar".
A Licensee who currently allows one or two performers to play without a PEL will, when applying to have their current Justices Licence converted to the new, replacement Local Authority Premises Licence, also have to apply for a "variation" to the automatic conversion of their current Magistrates License to include Live Music.

The "permitted hours" will be abolished. It will be for applicants to apply for whatever hours they wish, and for Local Authorities to decide what hours they will approve.
Police in Newcastle are talking about 24-hour licenses in the centre and 12pm closing in the suburbs. Sundays are treated no differently, The age limit for alcohol sales remains 18 tho' there will be less restriction on access to premises by people over 16.

There are variations:-
Temporary Licenseswill be available for Events which are limited to 96 hours and no more than 500 people attending. Temporary Licenses will be available to individuals who are not licence holders at named premises forup to five events a year(whether alcohol is to be sold or not). There is a complex number of other limitations to how many Temporary Licences can be issued in a year.

Exemptions from the need for a Licence will apply to Places of Worship, Village Halls and Community Centres, and religious services. Exclusion from "Entertainment" of "incidental Music" and "recorded music" but club venues with DJs will need to be licensed for Entertainment.
Schools are not exempt if the public can attend.

Small venues (capacity 200 or less) which already have a premises licence for music entertainment and who have not been subject of complaints or objections, will will be able to have conditions for noise and child protection lifted.
Other places which are not selling alcohol such as public or private open spaces, shops, libraries, hospitals etc will not require a licence for unamplified music between 8am and midnight.

Performers will not be liable to prosecution unless they were also organisers of an unlicensed event.

We welcome the reform of the Licensing Laws with one regrettable exception: namely that the one Statutory Instrument will regulate live music and alcohol whereas each of those could more appropriately have been combined with, respectively, recorded/broadcast music and tobacco.

Generator has also prepared a guide to how the new Act works, with particular emphasis on live music performances.
It can be downloaded As printable document about 6 pages long.

LINK to the act

LINK the Explanatory Notes to the Act

LINK the DCMS GuideLines (a large PDF file) to the Act

LINK the revised (2004) DCMS GuideLines (a large PDF file) to the Act . . . . /040323licensingactdaft.pdf

LINK to Generator's comments onthe DCMS Guidelines to the Actunder the Act
LINK the DCMS sylabus for the qualification for alcohol licence holders (a web page) under the Act

The 2003 Licensing Act will begin to come into effect around February 2005. Most of the new procedures in the Bill will be introduced over a "transition period" of nine months or so. It will be supplemented by guidelines which have now being published by the DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport).
Published by UKB Office on Sunday, November 21, 12:06 AM

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