Weston MP applauds entertainment licence red tape cut

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By Carol_Deacon | Thursday, January 10, 2013, 12:33

There will be singing and dancing in the street as the Government has announced community groups are to be set free from red tape when staging neighbourhood events.

The change will mean that community venues – including community centres, schools, village halls and hospitals - will be exempt from licensing restrictions. 

They will be free to put on cultural events like dance displays and concerts without having to apply to the local council for a licence.

Weston MP and former entertainment licensing minister John Penrose has applauded the announcement. 

He said: "Thanks to these new proposals, small local events will now be able to take place without the organisers having to fill in paperwork and pay approximately £200 for a licence.

"As a result, thousands more gigs, plays and other community events are expected to take place and everyone from the PTA to UK Music approve.

"As the minister in charge of entertainment licensing I made this a priority. 

"The first step was cutting red tape on live music gigs, which happened last summer, while we laid the foundations to go further and simplify other events like plays and dance as well.

"This announcement marks another, long-planned, step forward. 

"I'm absolutely delighted."

Under current rules, eligible organisers either have to apply for a Temporary Event Notice at least 10 days prior to putting on every event, or apply for an entertainment licence, that on average costs more than £200 for new applications.

It is not just community facilities that are set to benefit, as local businesses and cultural organisations no longer have to fill in reams of paperwork and go through a costly process just to host a live music band or put on a play. 

It's anticipated that the move will see thousands of extra events take place across the country.

The change – to the 2003 Licensing Act – has been brought about following a public consultation, and is part of the Government's 'red tape challenge', aimed at removing unnecessary bureaucracy from civil society organisations, charities and businesses.

The measures to deregulate plays, dance and indoor sport will be put to Parliament in the next few weeks, with the intention of bringing the measures into effect in England and Wales by April 2013.  

The remaining legislative measures, including live and recorded music and entertainment activities at community venues will be introduced to Parliament as soon as possible. 

DCMS will also consult on measures that examine community film screenings later this year.

Voluntary Arts chief executive Robin Simpson said: "Performances by amateur groups form a significant proportion of the cultural life of the country.

"In some communities amateur shows are the only available live performances. 

"For some time amateur arts groups have struggled with the complexities, confusions and costs of entertainment licensing which has often seemed excessive when applied to small-scale, non-profit, community activities.

"Voluntary Arts welcomes, therefore, the deregulation announced by the Government this week and hopes this will encourage more amateur performances and ease the load on the organisers of amateur groups."

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