Warning it could lead to huge increases in noise nuisance for local communities.
A new consultation paper from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport includes a proposal to deregulate the provision of live and recorded music, plays, films, indoor sporting events and dancing.
Wandsworth Council is vigorously opposing the current set of proposals as they would give local communities a much smaller say in what goes on in their area.
As they stand, the changes would permit any venue to stage concerts, DJ shows and other live entertainment without having to tell anyone or obtain a licence.
Neighbours might only get to know that a noisy event was happening once it started and unless the noise was so loud that it constituted a serious statutory nuisance, councils would only be able to take action after the event had finished.
Residents would also lose their right to object to a premises playing music late at night or in an outside area and councils would lose the ability to place conditions on a licence to prevent a noise problem from happening in the first place.
In addition, a club or other entertainment venue could open up without any public safety checks being carried out beforehand, while the new system would also mean that all the licensing conditions and restrictions that have previously been placed on venues requiring them to keep noise to a minimum would be removed.
And dealing with noise issues would go from pro-active assessment to reactive enforcement, with the costs of this enforcement being met by local taxpayers and not by the business creating the problem.
The council’s licensing spokesman Cllr Martin D Johnson said: “These are controversial proposals that could have a major impact on noise levels in residential areas.
“The changes could see all controls on licensed entertainment being removed at a stroke. This would mean that all of the borough’s nearly 500 pubs and bars being permitted to stage late night events like concerts, dancing and karaoke whenever they liked.
“While many of these would no doubt be run in a responsible manner, councils would have virtually no powers to intervene to prevent badly-run events from causing disturbance to their neighbours.
“Councils would no longer be able to apply conditions that live music was switched off before last orders or that sound limiting devices were fitted to stereo equipment.
“We would also no longer be able to tell a venue to keep all their windows and doors closed after a certain hour and nor could we stop pubs from playing music or karaoke in their beer gardens night after night.
“There are also concerns that without the need for a licence, other businesses could also begin providing public entertainment in wholly unsuitable premises.
“These venues would not be subject to proper safety checks with potentially no limits on the numbers of people attending, nor on the hours of operation. This would negate one of the reasons for introducing a licensing regime in the first place which was to prevent tragedies where young people have been injured in fires or as a result of overcrowding or crushing.
“It is important that if you feel strongly about the proposals that you make sure your voice is heard. We are urging residents and residents groups to respond to the consultation before its deadline of Saturday, December 3.”
To read the Government’s consultation and register a response visit http://www.culture.gov.uk/consultations/8408.aspx
To submit a comment email email@example.com or write to Nigel Wakelin, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH.
The council’s full response can be found at http://ww3.wandsworth.gov.uk/moderngov/documents/s20832/Appendix%201%20to%2011-783%20-%20deregulation%20of%20regulated%20entertainment.pdf
November 12, 2011