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Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Live Music Bill


Don Foster, is taking the Live Music Bill through the House of Commons.

This piece of legislation will remove controls on amplified and unamplified music at venues with a capacity up to 200 people. There are many pubs, bars and restaurants in the centre of Bath which feature live music, but few of them have a capacity of more than 200. So at a stroke this measure will remove noise controls from most venues in the city.

Residents in Bath are already too often subjected to unnecessary disturbance from the night time economy, including the noise of music and the noise of patrons making their way to and from their favourite night spot. It is very difficult to keep the lid on this nuisance, but residents’ associations have worked with the licensing authority to press for sensible controls. With a few exceptions, we have a reasonable compromise at the moment, and most significant licensed premises have noise conditions written into their licence.

10,500 residents live in the two central wards, Abbey and Kingsmead, including some 900 children and 1,800 elderly people, most of whom live only a stone’s throw from one or more licensed premises.

Noone is objecting to live music as such, as it brings great pleasure to many people.  But particularly where it is amplified, there is the risk of disturbance, and so it is absolutely right that there should be controls on noise. If the Live Music Bill is passed into law, the only way in which residents will be able to regain a degree of control is to go to the length of applying for a licence review or invoking the Noise Act. Both involve very onerous procedure, with an uncertain outcome.

Like the Licensing Act 2003, which has caused so much damage in city centres across the country, including Bath, the Live Music Bill is presented as an innocuous measure of ‘deregulation’. Its promoters even claim that there is a quantifiable increase in ‘wellbeing from attendance and participation in more live music performance’. The pub trade object to the ‘hassle of red tape’ and are all in favour of the Bill.

We urge other residents who don’t share the trade’s view about this to write as we have done to Don Foster at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA, or don@donfoster.co.uk, to ask that the Bill be amended so that sensible controls on noise are not swept away.

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