To suit the Action to the Word, the Word to the Action

Posts tagged ‘Scottish Government’

Arts and Community Events Need You! Complete very quick survey…

It’s live! You can now find the City of Edinburgh Council’s survey about changes to Public Entertainment Licensing online.

Make sure you tell them what you think about their proposals re. licences for free events!

If you are not yet in the picture re. these changes, check out the importance of this campaign and the basics of what is involved and what is going on.

Further related posts on this blog (including the Edinburgh Public Meeting and delegation to the Edinburgh Council) can be found in the ‘Public Entertainment Licence Fiasco’ category.

Time to be consulted! Speak up about Public Entertainment Licence changes…

The public consultancy period – where you and I get to put our penny’s-worth in – has started on changes to the Public Entertainment Licensing Resolution of the City of Edinburgh Council. Below is a letter giving details about this (bold highlighting by me) and how to speak up about this important issue.

If you are not familiar with the campaign highlighting the affect of these changes on free events and expression, check out the posts in the category ‘Public Entertainment Licence Fiasco‘, in particular Keeping Track.

From solicitor for City of Edinburgh Council

“Firstly I would confirm that the advert advising of the proposed draft Public Entertainment licensing Resolution went into the Edinburgh Evening News on 16th March 2012. That has the effect of kick-starting the legal process for the consultation. The advert invites written responses, to be sent to the Director of Services for Communities, Licensing Section, 249 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1YJ.

In addition we have set up an email address for consultation responses – publicentertainment.licensing@edinburgh.gov.uk

Separately, arrangements are in hand for an online consultation and I understand that this is likely to be accessed on the Council’s website at the general consultations section, and also via a link from the Public Entertainment licensing section of the website. At the time of emailing the questions for the online survey were almost ready – so hopefully will be in place by the end of the week. Meantime, a couple of links which will hopefully be of some assistance to you:-

The details of the committee decision and the press release, etc are at the following link:-

http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/news/article/830/consultation_to_take_place_on_licensing_rules_for_free_events

The details of Public Entertainment licensing and the link to the online survey will be at the following address (which at the time of emailing was still to be updated):-

http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/309/public_entertainment_licences/935/public_entertainment  [the survey is now live - the above link leads to it, or you can go direct via   http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QTZMWXP]

For those who are anxious to ensure that their views are recorded, may I suggest that they make use of the email address as above, and/or write in with their comments? Once the online questionnaire is up and running, that will enable a more accessible means of responding to the consultation process – as I say, I think that should be ready in the next day or two.

Hope this assists in the meantime.

Regards,”

As I write, poets, performers and artists sit in prisons…

“As I write, poets, performers and artists sit in prisons and under house arrest across the globe (as a visit to Amnesty International will inform), because they encourage society to think. Art is as necessary in a democracy, as food and water, if there is to be quality of life. Quality of life comes from knowing one has the power to change, contribute, be heard and to hear why things are as they are or how they could be within our communities.”

Wise words from Gillian, leading to why A Little April Foolery is so important, in the ‘Crunch time for Edinburgh!’ comments.

See Gillian’s comment in full – and add your responses too!

Keep up the fight against Public Entertainment Licence changes!

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO CONTINUE WITH THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST PUBLIC ENTERTAINMENT LICENCE CHANGES

Confusion is hardly surprising given that councils have different Resolutions and it is these which require amendment to follow the Scottish Government wishes for councils to deal reasonably on this matter.

The legislative change at government level was made in 2010. Amendment of a Resolution (which lists events to be licensed) by removing certain events requires a 28 day consultancy period. Amendment of a Resolution that makes additions (does that cover putting in exemptions?), or re-words it completely – stating what IS to be covered (probably a superior method of approach) – requires a 9 month consultancy period.

Any Council that claims it was against the changes to the legislation at the time they were made (i.e. Glasgow) should not now require a period of review / consultation, etc. as they have had plenty of time since 2010 to go through even the long consultancy period.

That the issue has only now come to light as a problem shows the lack of attention being paid to this piece of legislation.

The Scottish Government has either not prepared councils fully or has been ignored by councils – either situation is disgraceful. The legislation as it stands places a huge onus of work and of trust on the councils and it allows regional discrimination.

The legislation itself must be reviewed.

The councils have had time to put a workable and reasonable Resolution in place that deals with this legislation and there are major councils – Edinburgh and Glasgow to my definite knowledge – that have not done so.

No council (take note, Edinburgh) should now put the onus on the public to apply for licences, free or otherwise, which are only required because certain councils have not dealt with their Resolutions in time to handle this legislation despite the legislation having been passed back in 2010. This, too, is disgraceful.

The April 1st events have huge importance throughout Scotland

Whatever the situation with each local council and its Resolution, the April 1st events will help to highlight the fact that neither Scottish Government nor major local Councils paid proper attention to this legislation: not to how it would be handled; not to how it would actually affect the people of Scotland.

This is not good enough and now is the time to act! You can do this with April 1st events and through the online survey for the City of Edinburgh Council.

[Not sure what the Public Entertainment Licence changes are all about? Read more and keep track!]

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The above is slightly amended from a comment I made below a Scottish Times article, and shows why support and engagement with A Little April Foolery! events is incredibly important.

How To Participate In A Little April Foolery « A Little April Foolery

A Little April FooleryFind out how to make your artistic presence known to the councils and Scottish Government:

How To Participate In A Little April Foolery

This is the event covered in The Scotsman’s article ‘Stage is set for artistic April Fools Day protest against new red tape‘ and it is about raising awareness of grassroots arts and how the current Public Entertainment Licence changes are threatening them and local community events.

At time of posting, the number of those joining in is nearing the 1,200 mark – make sure you’re involved too!

The creative people of Edinburgh have taught me…

Photo of Jasmin Egner by Scott Cadenhead

Jasmin Egner, herself pursuing an acting life in Edinburgh (having come from Germany) has written a wonderful comment on the ‘Crunch time for Edinburgh!’ post.

She mentions that coming here was related to her perception that the UK and Edinburgh in particular value creativity and that bureaucracy wouldn’t really be an issue when it comes to spontaneity.

Do read – and respond!

Hyslop, MacAskill and Salmond responses to PEL campaign

Debating Chamber of the Scottish Parliament

Below are the responses to the campaign against Public Entertainment Licence changes from SNP MSPs Fiona Hyslop (Culture Secretary), Kenny MacAskill (Justice Secretary) and Alex Salmond (First Minister)

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs (SNP)

LETTER TO NEIL COOPER, ARTS JOURNALIST AND DEPUTEE AT CEC REGULATORY COMMITTEE MEETING 9th March 2012

08 March 2012
Dear Mr Cooper,
Thank you for your e-mail of 6 March regarding changes to public entertainment licensing. I am very much aware of the current concern amongst the arts community over the changes brought in by the Criminal Law and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 and coming into force on 1 April. The Scottish Government is wholly supportive of the contribution made by the arts community and do not want to see any adverse affect on the staging of exhibitions/performances.
The system for licensing Public Entertainment has been in place since the passing of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. The licensing regime has been amended to give local licensing authorities the ability – if they so choose – to include free to enter events within the terms of licensable activities. This change in the law was in response to concerns that had been raised by a task group that had reviewed the legislation about the lack of control that local licensing authorities had over large scale free-to-enter events such as music festivals and large firework displays etc. where stewarding requirement for example may be needed for safety.
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 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.
There is nothing in the law to prevent an authority from exempting all or certain categories of free to enter events, or particular types of cultural events from the requirement to have a public entertainment licence.
The long lead in time between the passage of the bill and commencement of the change on 1 April 2012 has been to allow licensing authorities the time to ensure that they have adopted resolutions that ensure that they licence the activities that they want to, whilst avoiding a requirement for a licence where that is disproportionate. Councils are doing this and Edinburgh are doing so this week. It may be that others will need to do likewise.
The cost of the licence is also for the licensing authority to determine and therefore, even if the local authority decided to insist on some large scale free-to-enter events having a licence, it would be open to them to charge a lower fee than would be charged for commercial events.
The Scottish Government are clear though that we and the public will expect Councils to continue to support the fantastic individual, grassroots and community cultural activity which takes place particularly in this Year of Creative Scotland. It is our firm view that these decisions are taken locally so that that local needs and requirements are reflected rather than a one size fits all approach is taken.
I also attach for information a copy of;-
1) The letter issued by Mr MacAskill to licensing authorities clarifying the Scottish Government’s position on the matter.
2) The answer given today (Thursday 08 March) by the First Minister at First Minister’s Questions.

Kenny MacAskill, Cabinet Secretary for Justice (SNP)

LETTER TO LICENSING AUTHORITY CONVENORS

March 2012
Dear Licensing Authority Convenors
The Scottish Government
DELIVERING A GAMES LEGACY FOR SCOTLAND
Many of you will be aware of the current interest in the changes to the law on licensing of public entertainment that will come into force on 1 April 2012. I am writing to you to set out the Scottish Government’s position on this matter.
The case for a change to the law was made by the task group that reviewed the operation of the licensing schemes operated under the Civic (Government) Scotland Act 1982. That task group concluded in its report, “A number of respondents requested that consideration be given to  removing the exemption from the licensing requirement for events which are free to enter. At present, Section 41(2) of the Act states that a “place of public entertainment” means “any place where, on payment of money or money’s worth, members of the public may use any facilities for the purposes of entertainment or recreation.” Comments were made that some such events can attract large crowds with concomitant public safety and public order concerns, and as such licensing authorities should have a power to require the organisers to obtain a public entertainment licence. The Task Group agreed that it is unsatisfactory that licensing authorities are unable to control such large scale public entertainment events. We acknowledged that licensing authorities may not wish to license certain types of free event, such as gala days and school fetes, but considered that the decision on whether to license these events should rest with the individual authority. As such, we recommend that the exemption for events which are free to enter be removed.”

That recommendation was taken forward through the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 which under section 176(2) removed the words “on payment of money or money’s worth,” from section 41 the 1982 Act.

This amendment therefore allowed licensing authorities to licence free events where they wish to do so. It was never envisaged that all free events should be licensed. In fact, both the policy memorandum and explanatory notes accompanying the Act make clear that licensing authorities have discretion as to which events require a licence. The explanatory notes use the examples from the task group report of school fetes and gala days as types of event where the requirement for a licence may not be appropriate.
It has always been the case that without action on the part of licensing authorities to amend resolutions, free events could become licensed depending upon whatever existing resolution was already in place. The Scottish Government took the decision to delay commencement of the change until 1 April 2012 – some 20 months after Royal Assent – in order that licensing authorities had a reasonable period to amend their resolutions to ensure they were appropriate in light of the changes to the law.
I am aware that some authorities have already taken action or are planning to do so.
However it may be helpful if I set out the position about making changes to resolutions.
Section 9 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 sets out the process which an authority must follow when making, amending or repealing a resolution. In particular, I would draw your attention to subsection 9, which provides detail on amending or repealing resolutions.
Section 9 does not require a nine month period for amending a resolution where the variation reduces the scope of the resolution. However a 28 day period of public consultation is required, which may mean that an amended resolution will not be in force until after 1 April.
However, where an amended resolution is not in place by this date, we would encourage you to adopt a pragmatic and common sense approach in dealing with any applications for public entertainment licences between this date and the coming into force of any amended resolution.
Given that 2012 is the Year of Creative Scotland we would encourage you to take account of the contribution of the artistic community in particular when progressing any changes that are being made. It would be unfortunate if performers felt unable to showcase their talents around the country due to this issue.
I hope that this letter clarifies the Scottish Government’s position on this matter.
KENNY MACASKILL
St Andrew’s House, Regent Road, Edinburgh EHl 3DG
www.scotland.gov.uk

Alex Salmond, First Minister for Scotland (SNP)

RESPONSE AT FIRST MINISTER’S QUESTION TIME, 8th March 2012

Video: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-17297297

29 mins 57 secs in – Malcolm Chisholm MSP puts question and Alex Salmond answers:-

“The Cabinet Secretary for Justice has written to licensing authorities this week. This will further assist them and sets out the powers they have to decide what they wish to licence and what not to licence.

This amendment was introduced to allow local authorities to control and ensure safety at large scale free to enter events such as raves and major firework displays. When they take licensing decisions we expect them to take account of the impact on cultural activity and small scale events in their areas, in order to continue to support the fantastic individual, grass-root and community based artistic talent we have in Scotland. That is the case at any time but is especially important during the Year of Creative Scotland and I am pleased that Edinburgh Council has indicated that no free cultural events for audiences of less than 200 people will be affected.”

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