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The government has announced (7 January 2013) that it intends to remove the requirement for community venues, including village and church hall, schools, hospitals and community centres, to hold a Premises Licence or Temporary Event Notice in relation to certain entertainment and indoor sporting events.
This will mean that concerts, dance displays and plays, for example, will no longer need to be licenced, which will be a welcome relief for organisers of these kinds of functions, as anyone tasked with organising these for a local band or the school PTA will appreciate. It may also be a relief to Police and Local Authority licensing departments, as they will not have the adminstrative burden of having to deal with so many relatively minor applications.
At the same time, there will also be an extension of the Live Music Act, which currently permits live music without a licence before 11pm to audiences of up to 200. In future this will apply to venues with audiences of up to 500.
This does not mean a complete end to regulation for these events, of course - life is never that easy! If any alcoholic drinks are to be available a licence will still be needed to permit that aspect. Neighbours concerned about noise and other nuisance can complain to the local authority, who have powers to serve abatement notices or to prosecute if necessary. This is not, therefore, carte blanche to hold a Motorhead gig in your village hall...
It is hoped that these changes will come into force in April 2013. Watch this space for further updates and, we remind eveyone that the authorities will not ignore unlicensed events held in the meantime!