Posted @ 17:24Music In Pubs
The following letter recently (Wednesday, 1st February 2006) appeared in The Guardian:
"In 2001-03, I worked as the Musicians' Union adviser on licensing reform, trying to persuade politicians to introduce more liberal legislation for live music (Songs of experience: folk music might be cool again - but what matters more is that it's the voice of the people, January 30). Unfortunately, most Labour MPs proved to be lobby fodder. They were whipped into submission, so there was no hope of music-friendly amendments in the Commons. But by the summer of 2003, a coalition of Conservative and Lib Dem peers were backing an MU proposed amendment that would have exempted small venues from entertainment licensing for live music, provided the music finished by 11.30pm. This exemption was also backed by the Arts Council and the music industry. But the government shot it down, citing the Association of Police Officers that "live music always acts as a magnet in whatever community it is being played. It brings people from outside that community who, having no connection locally behave in a way that is inappropriate, criminal and disorderly". This was read into the Hansard record. So law and order would appear to be the rationale for criminalising the provision of innocuous music-making in bars, unless licensed."
It appears that, according to the Association of Police Officers, that every instance of live music results in behaviour that is "inappropriate, criminal and disorderly" because of these "outside elements".
A number of my regular readers were at the Tap & Spile, Grimsby, on Tuesday night when this "magnet" resulted in a lot of people having a really nice time. If anyone can remember the "inappropriate, criminal and disorderly" behaviour that the Association of Police Officers assure us is the consequence of such gatherings, I should be glad to have my no doubt faulty memory refreshed. They may also be able to remind me of all the trouble that I seem to have missed at the many other live music events in the Tap (and other places) over the past few years.
The only thing which occurs to me that can explain this contradiction is that the Association of Police Officers believes that the very act of performing live music is "inappropriate, criminal and disorderly". This also appears to be the government view. There must be a great conspiracy in the media which prevents us hearing bout the "inappropriate, criminal and disorderly" behaviour of audiences at the Royal Opera House, the Royal Festival Hall, etc., which actively encourage "people from outside that community" who have "no connection locally".
I have e-mailed the Association of Police Officers (see: http://www.acpo.police.uk) with a link to this posting and look forward to their comments.