An amendment to the Licensing Act 2003 proposing that local authorities consider “social or cultural” benefits when granting live music licenses has been slapped down in the Lords and withdrawn by its sponsor.
Liberal Democrat Lord Tim Clement-Jones last week proposed an amendment to the Policing And Crime Bill, which was underpinned by the argument that the current licensing approach focuses on the potential negative impacts of an event. The four current licensing objectives are to uphold public safety, prevent crime and disorder, prevent public nuisance and protect children from harm. In Scotland, there is a fifth licensing objective around protecting and improving public health.
The idea was backed by Live Nation’s Paul Latham, Alex Mann of the Musicians’ Union and Mark Davyd of the Music Venue Trust, who all gave oral evidence on the subject in Parliament last week.
Spokesperson for the Government in the House Of Lords, Baroness Carlyn Chisholm knocked back the notion, saying that current licensing rules worked because there was a “presumption that licensing authorities will grant a license in respect to an application, with appropriate conditions, unless there are strong concerns in terms of the licensing objectives”, adding that “Requiring licensing authorities to consider the provision of social or cultural activities would run in contradiction to the other licensing objectives, all of which are aimed at harm reduction”.
Clement-Jones fired back before withdrawing the amendment: “I believe the Home Office also has responsibility in this area to help to preserve our venues, rather than simply stonewalling and saying, ‘We’ve got a very fine Licensing Act as it is and we don’t need any further objectives’”.
He added: “When we come to our next debate, I am sure the Government will make the same argument – but they may find a rather different response when it comes to a vote”.
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