Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Public Entertainment Licences in Scotland

There has now been a small pile of coverage in the blogsphere about the controversy of Public Entertainments Licences in Glasgow. Rays of light here and there.

Helen Shaddock brings us the response for Nicola Sturgeon MSP including this:-
However, it is important to stress that the new law does not mean that local licensing authorities are required to insist on free-to-enter events having a Public Entertainment Licence. The discretion lies entirely with the local licensing authority - in this case Glasgow - to determine what types of events they licence. The public entertainment licence is a discretionary licence. It is for the local authority therefore to decide whether to licence public entertainment and if they do, what specific types of entertainment they wish to include.

As I understand it, there is nothing whatsoever in the law to prevent Glasgow from exempting all or certain categories of free to enter events from the requirement to have a public entertainment licence. Indeed they already have exemptions in place in relation to school halls, church halls, fetes and gala days and there is no reason why other events cannot be added to this list of exemptions.
Via For Pete's Sake we learn that Glasgow music scene heavy-weights Belle and Sebastian have weighed in on twitter with the jaw-dropping put-down:-
Not cool GlasgowCC [City Council], not cool at all.
Art Tokens wonders why there's no corresponding fuss about Edinburgh City Council who require exhibits to have licences, perhaps this is because their policy is for venues with paid entry. They don't seem to have changed their policy in line with the change in the law.

Linn Labour gets all political about it, having a go at Nicola Sturgeon MSP for clarifying the Scottish parliament's position in the face of Glasgow City Council's warning about the repercussion of the change in legislation. Somewhere along the line there was a miscommunication, a fine article on the subject in The Firm explains that
The licensing of public entertainment is an “optional” civic licence. This means it is a matter for each licensing authority to decide whether or not public entertainment events should require a licence, and secondly to decide what forms of entertainment are treated as “entertainment” for licensing purposes.
Thus bitch-slapping Glasgow City Council, bang, right in the chops.

There's a neat letter in The Herald pointing out
In this year of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, many people will be considering ways to publicly celebrate this event. How many organisers will be aware that free entry community events will now, according to the legislative briefing on Glasgow City Council's website, require a public entertainment licence?
Which is a rather neat angle, outwith art galleries and popup gigs.

The campaign is still going strong on Facebook, with useful titbits filtering through, Zara Gladman wrote to her MSP Bill Kidd, who's aide Alison wrote back, possibly having looked at my list of what other councils are doing:-
...The interpretation of this and decision on what scale of event requires a license is up to local authorities, It doesn't appear that other local authorities are taking the same approach as Glasgow, which would tend to suggest that the problems... ...are of [Glasgow City] Council's making. There is nothing in the Act which would automatically penalise small scale free events...
Yeah, take that GlasgowCC, in your face.

The latest actual news via The Herald
...a spokesman for the local authority said it will seek a temporary solution so that small art exhibitions will not require a licence.

The move – a redefinition of the term exhibition, the council said – will represent immediate steps which help to protect Glasgow's art scene.
Perhaps like what West Lothian council have already done, instead of the boilerplate use of 'Exhibition' in the list of events affected, they specify
Exhibition of persons or performing animals.
and don't refer to art galleries at all.

One thing that has been bugging me immensely throughout is the spelling of licence, license, licencing, licensing?

Another thing is the nagging suspicion that maybe its Glasgow City Council, The Highlands Council and West Lothian who are on the ball in changing their policies, and the other 29 councils will all be playing catch up in the coming months. What if the rest of Scotland still have this battle to face once the various councils's lawyers have finished reading the legislation and then decide to implement it all across the board to the letter.

The main angle of my charge is that Glasgow is being unique in its implementation, and all the other councils are well aware of the change in legislation, but have decided not to implement it, that they know its all optional and have opted not to do anything. But maybe I'm wrong, and the rest of Scotland's art scenes are in for a fight.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Public Entertainment Licences in Glasgow

All over my twitter stream and Facebook feed Glaswegians are up in arms about the council's implementation of a change in the Public Entertainment Licence laws whereby the Scottish Parliament has devolved power down to local authorities to decide whether or not free events need to pay for an Public Entertainment Licence. Originally the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 had the text:-
In this section, “place of public entertainment” means any place where, on payment of money or money’s worth, members of the public are admitted or may use any facilities
for the purposes of entertainment or recreation...
But now the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 has removed the bit about payment of money. According to MSP Nicola Sturgeon, its up to local councils' discretion as to whether to charge free events and event modify which sorts of events are except, not the
Scottish parliament.

I think the idea behind it was to enable councils to clamp down on free 'raves', which is kind of twenty five years too late

Anyhoo, I'm a bit far away from the action, but with a a few spare minutes I went through the websites of all the unitary authorities in Scotland and put together this google docs spreadsheet indicating which only require events where the public has to pay to have entertainment licences and which ones require all events.

Its thrilling stuff, I'm sure you'll agree.

Of the 32 unitary authorities, only three make reference to the change in legislation, 19 of them only require a licence for events where the public has to pay.

As a side note, quite a few of them use EUGO the European Union point of single contact to administer Public Entertainment Licences.

And also a great chunk of the councils have just cut and pasted the text from the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, as can be seen from the use of the phrase "on payment of money or money’s worth", but some change it to "monies" which is incorrect and a minor point of pedantry. A swath of the one's which use EUGO have copied and pasted the text from EU website "If your premises are used as..."