Don Foster MP


Foster hails changes to Live Event Licensing

May 18, 2023 by admin in News

Don Foster, MP for Bath has today welcomed Government plans to scrap cumbersome regulations controlling entertainment licensing in England and Wales.

The Coalition Government has said that it plans to scrap these prohibitive regulations and licenses will now only be required in situations where they are needed, such as when there are large crowds or alcohol being sold.

Last year, Don Foster introduced a Live Music Bill to the House of Commons which would have freed many smaller venues to host more music. And as the party’s culture spokesman at the last election, he ensured that plans to encourage live music were included in the Lib Dem manifesto. The Coalition Government agreed to take up this commitment and it is this promise which is at the heart of the licensing minister’s announcements on removing the red tape on entertainment.

Commenting, Don Foster stated:

“Existing laws have stifled a generation of performers and made life difficult for small venue owners. This legislative change will lift the heavy bureaucratic burden off of any venue, organisation or person that wants to put on live entertainment. It is great news for the cultural life of Bath as it will now be a whole lot easier for people to put on events and shows in our city.”

Voicing his support for the proposals, Liberal Democrat Councillor Ian Gilchrist stated:

“I’m very pleased to have assisted Don with these proposals, which I believe will have a great benefit to just about everyone involved with live music and performance in Bath. If the consultation leads to acceptance of the revised law then we will all be winners”


Notes to editors:

  1. 1. Briefing Notes


The Government will next month move to scrap regulations controlling licensed entertainment in England and Wales. The current regime, established in the Licensing Act 2003, has been widely criticised by the music industry, schools, community groups and arts organisations who believe it has stifled new talent getting through, and put hundreds of small venues at risk of closure as well as discouraging community and fund raising events..

The current regime means you need a specific licence to:

  • put on an opera, but not a stock car race;
  • allow a folk duo to play in the corner of a village pub, but not for a packed city centre bar to show an England game on a big screen;
  • stage an athletics meeting indoors, but not for one outdoors;
  • put on a circus, but not a funfair;
  • hold a carol concert in a church hall, but not if it’s in a church

The Government is therefore going to consult on scrapping licensing regulations apart from where there is a clear and overriding need for additional protections such as safety for spectators and noise nuisance for neighbours. But in most cases, these factors are already covered in long-established and effective legislation. The licensing rules to be retained are therefore likely to be no more than those controlling:

  • events where alcohol is also available (but this would be simply an alcohol licence, and landlords\managers would not need an extra licence for live music or to host a film night, as they do at present;
  • very large scale events attracting thousands of spectators; and
  • ‘adult’ entertainment like pole dancing and lap dancing (where not already covered by the Police and Crime Act).

The plans would complement the work of the Home Secretary on alcohol licensing. The Government believes that it should be easier to put on entertainment, while at the same time tightening up on the sale of alcohol.

Tourism Minister John Penrose said:

“Live entertainment is a good thing. It improves our cultural life, provides enormous pleasure for millions and should be encouraged, not stifled by the clammy hand of bureaucracy. The current regime makes it harder for new talent to get a chance to perform in front of audiences, imposes a deadweight cost on small businesses and voluntary bodies who want to put on shows, and in a small but significant way, reduces our free speech.

“As long as we have proper controls on alcohol, and spectator safety and noise nuisance are controlled, the rest is mostly bonkers red tape, and it’s time we consigned it to the bin.”

Technical Note

1. The Government expects the entire reform programme to be deliverable through a combination of existing powers in the Licensing Act and Legislative Reform Orders.

2. Licenses currently cost between £100 and £1,905.

3. There are currently around 133,000 premises in England and Wales licensed for regulated entertainment; most also sell alcohol.

4. The Licensing Act 2003 requires a licence for a performance of a play; showing a film; indoor sporting events; boxing or wrestling (indoors and outdoors); live music; any playing of recorded music; or any dance performance. This can take in brass bands in local parks, Punch and Judy shows, travelling circuses, school plays and concerts, and school discos where an admission charge is made to benefit the PTA.

5. Licences cover free events to which the general public is admitted, and any public or private events where a charge is made with the intention of making a profit (even when raising money for charity).