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Proposals to scrap parts of the Licensing Act 2003 have been strongly welcomed by local MP Peter Luff.

During the last Parliament Peter campaigned relentlessly for an end to the pointless bureaucracy created by the Act. He was particularly concerned about the difficulties the legislation created for travelling circuses, but the reforms proposed today go much further than that.

Peter said,

“Why the last government wouldn’t sort out the mess it had created I will never know. But now action is being taken.

“This is wonderful news for all those who love music, are involved in organising community events, and for many thousands of people who bring family entertainment to our towns and villages. Of course there must be safeguards against anti-social behaviour and alcohol abuse – but this consultation will ensure those concerns are fully addressed while freeing our nation's entertainers from a ludicrous burden.”

Under the current terms, people have to apply and sometimes pay for licences for events with little or no risk of trouble including school plays, brass bands in public parks and Punch and Judy shows.

A consultation paper published today looks at all currently licensable activities and asks what would happen if the activity no longer required a licence. Where there is no good reason to continue with the existing regime, the Government will look to abolish it.
Tourism Minister John Penrose said deregulation would help new talent to emerge and promote economic growth.

“Current entertainment licensing rules are a mess,” the Minister said. “Pointless bureaucracy and licence fees imposed on community groups trying to put on simple amateur productions and fundraising events sap energy and deaden people’s desire to get involved. Deregulation here will also make it easier for new talent to get started and help pubs diversify into other activities to help weather the present tough economic climate.”

The consultation will aim to get the views of those working in the industry to ensure the prevention of public nuisance, the protection of children from harm and to maintain public safety. Ministers confirmed there will be no relaxation of the rules controlling gatherings of more than 5,000 people, boxing and wrestling, and things classed as sexual entertainment.

The proposed changes have already received wide support in the worlds of music and entertainment. Feargal Sharkey, Chief Executive of UK Music, said he was “delighted” at this “forward-thinking approach”, while Christina Payne, General Secretary of Equity, praised the move as “a visionary solution”. Groups representing PTAs, the tourism industry and voluntary arts groups have added their voices to the list of those in favour of the move.


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