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Red Tape - Local Venues face 'music tax'

21st February 2003

Jonathan Djanogly today pledged to campaign against the plans to hit local musicians with new red-tape and fees.

Jonathan Djanogly, the Member of Parliament for the Huntingdon Constituency, today pledged to campaign against the plans to hit local musicians with new red-tape and fees. Conservatives in Huntingdonshire have warned that the Licensing Bill currently before Parliament will force local venues to pay for licences to hold plays and concerts. Music organisations across the country have warned that they face a 'music tax'.

Under these proposed new laws, musicians face a criminal conviction if they perform in public without a licence. This could include an unlicensed piano in a bar or a concert in a village hall - even if the performance is for charity. The plans will mean an increase in bureaucracy and costs for live music venues.

Mr Djanogly said:

"This is a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Obviously, large public entertainment events need to be licensed. But these new laws threaten to engulf local musicians across Huntingdonshire in red tape. Many venues that will be at risk do not currently require licences. Local community events will be at risk; these compulsory new fees - an effective 'music tax' - will make many events financially unviable. It will reduce community participation in musical arts and take money away from charity. Furthermore, many venues currently used for live music will cease to be available as they will not be prepared to meet the additional cost and burden of having to apply for a licence.

I have received many concerns in my constituency mailbag in the last few weeks from a variety of different people, including a Brass Band conductor from St Neots, worried about not being able to continue rehearsals in small venues without paying a hefty licence fee.

I fear this is yet another example of Whitehall red-tape and regulation damaging Huntingdon's voluntary groups, as well as depriving musicians of opportunities to perform in public. Huntingdon Conservatives will be campaigning against these flawed new laws. I have started by writing to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and look forward to hearing her comments on the issue."

Following an extensive campaign by churches, supported by the Conservatives in the House of Lords, the Government has withdrawn its previous proposals to require places of religious worship licenses to hold certain events. These would have meant churches, village and parish halls would have had to pay hefty fees to hold charitable functions.

Mr Djanogly commented on the u-turn, saying:

"This is a massive victory for all those local people who I fought with to scrap these plans. I only hope that the Government will now see how misguided the rest of the proposals are."

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