At the City of Edinburgh Council’s meeting of the Regulatory Committee, convened by Councillor Rob Munn, a deputation representing the views of those concerned about the Public Entertainment Licence changes was invited to speak for 10 minutes, before being asked questions by committee members. Also present were officers from licensing departments, whom the committee members consulted about the issue.
The deputation consisted of Neil Cooper, arts journalist, and Morvern Cunningham, arts promoter and organiser. Mr Cooper spoke eloquently, with wit and knowledge, about the history of arts in Edinburgh and the way in which grassroots endeavours feed major artistic success stories. He also pointed out the incredibly difficult task of defining ‘entertainment’ within artistic perimeters, and did so with appreciated humour. You can read the full address here, in the post ‘Address to Edinburgh Regulatory Committee and Campaign Statement‘.
Both Mr Cooper and Ms Cunningham, along with the licensing officers, then answered questions from committee members. These queries included what events are already being affected by the changes in legislation, whether an exemption mentioning ‘200 capacity’ would be sufficient to allay concerns, what precisely is meant by ‘premises’ for official wording, and the very telling question of what the actual intention of the changes to the legislation is!
Also of note was the suggestion that, rather than focus on exempting certain events – the arduous and, in practice, unending task of creating a comprehensive list – it would make more sense to state which free events ARE to be covered by the changed legislation. This would, however, necessitate (legally) a full scale consultation and re-drafting of the relevant Resolution which would require at least 9 months. The focus currently is on what can be done in the short-term to minimise the impact of these changes on events which should not be their target.
As a result, the shorter consultation period of 28 days was decided upon, with an interim period of free licensing in effect from 1st April to at least 20th April, the time of the next meeting of the Regulatory Committee. At that point, with the relevant report to hand, the Committee plans to announce which events have been removed from the Resolution and will therefore no longer require licensing.
It was made clear that no-one present – those who spoke up and, by final agreement, all committee members – wished the PEL changes to impact on arts and community events. The focus of the licensing departments will be on large-scale events which pose some risk to public safety and those which may be using the ‘free’ category to obscure high business interests.
The motion put to the Committee and passed at this meeting is detailed – along with the results – here: