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Deregulating music events will ‘increase’ nuisance

Corin Williams07/12/2011 - 14:16

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The CIEH has urged the government to ‘think again’ over proposals to allow live music performances attended by up to 5,000 people to go ahead without the need for a licence.

The idea, which would involve amending schedule 1 of the Licensing Act 2003, was put forward by ministers as part of a drive to cut ‘red tape’. The government is also concerned that the country’s ‘musical heritage’ has been damaged by excessive regulation.

But responding to a consultation run by the Department for Media, Culture and Sport, the CIEH said the Licensing Act had proved to be a success in tackling noise complaints.

CIEH principal policy officer Howard Price said: ‘The clear consequence of enacting the paper’s proposals will, in our view, be an increase in complaints which, as local authority resources continue to diminish, will go increasingly unanswered.’

Mr Price said music at licensed premises was the third most common source of noise complaints received by environmental health departments and denied the government’s assertion that obtaining a Temporary Event Notice was a bureaucratic burden.

He also pointed to exclusive CIEH research showing a continued decline in the number of councils offering out-of-hour noise services. Of the 156 councils currently offering a service, nearly a third said they expect to scale it back.

The Local Government Association (LGA) warned deregulating music events would leave councils powerless to respond to noisy events.

Chris White, chair of the LGA culture, media and sport board, said the proposals went ‘too far’.

He added: ‘In its intention to cut red tape and box-ticking for village fetes, school concerts and amateur plays, this will inadvertently be giving carte blanche for noisy parties, concerts and all night raves attended by thousands.

‘It is vital that authorities are still able to respond to the concerns of residents.’

Campaigners the Noise Abatement Society (NAS) said it was essential for the government to make a ‘cast iron guarantee’ that local authorities’ duty of to respond to noise complaints was maintained.

A spokesperson said: ‘NAS has been extremely concerned at rumours that statutory nuisance itself may have been under threat. This is not “red tape”, but the expression of an age-old inalienable right of citizens, and a core component in the balancing of freedoms and responsibilities in a fair society.’

The government’s proposals have been supported by lobbying group UK Music and the Musicians’ Union.

There are currently around 133,000 premises in England and Wales licensed for some form of entertainment, and more than 120,000 Temporary Event Notices are issued every year.

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