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MPs: end Police's music clampdown

Scrap Form 696, says culture committee

Parliament's culture committee says the Police's notorious "Form 696" should be scrapped, and called for red tape to be eased for venues wishing to put on live music.

21 London boroughs have introduced a requirement that venues complete the 'Metropolitan Police Promotion and Event Assessment Form 696', for every live performance. The form, as we reported here, allows police to demand personal details of every performer at every live event in the borough, so they could conduct a "terror" risk assessment. UK Music chief Feargal Sharkey had raised the issue before the committee last year - sparking national publicity. UK Music welcomed the recommendation to scrap the form.

"UK Music has been vocal amongst musicians, civil liberty campaigners and members of the public who want to see this counter-productive and morally questionable risk assessment form scrapped. I am delighted the Committee feels the same way," he said in a statement.

The culture, media and sport committee also called for the Statutory Guidance attached to the Licensing Act to be reworded - making it "to remove the overt linkage of live music with public disorder." Members noted that this wasn't justified by the evidence - and burglar alarms prompted more public complaints about noise nuisance than music venues.

The 2003 Licensing Act requires venues to pay a one-off base fee of between £100 and £635, and an annual fee of between £70 and £350, dependent on the property value of the premises. But such is the red tape involved, local authorities reckon that it costs £100m more to implement the act than they raise from fees.

So MPs called for a number of other changes. Smaller venues (with a capacity of under 200) and nonprofits such as church halls, sports clubs and youth clubs shouldn't have to apply for a license at all. And noting the reduction of live music in 'secondary venues' - such as restaurants - they said venues hosting one or two performers of non-acoustic material shouldn't need a license, either. Two tubas is OK. ®

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