Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Response from Nicola Sturgeon re Entertainment Licence

From Nicola Sturgeon (Deputy First Minister):

Thank you for your email about Glasgow City Council's proposed changes to its policy on Public Entertainment Licences, which are due to take effect on 1 April 2012. I understand your concerns about this matter and wanted to take the opportunity to outline my understanding of the issue.

The Public Entertainment Licensing regime was amended by the Criminal Justice and Licensing Act 2010 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 about the lack of control that local licensing authorities had over large scale free-to-enter events such as raves.

However, 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 - in this case Glasgow - 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.

As I understand it, there is nothing whatsoever in the law to prevent Glasgow from exempting all or certain categories of free to enter events from the requirement to have a public entertainment licence. Indeed they already have exemptions in place in relation to school halls, church halls, fetes and gala days and there is no reason why other events cannot be added to this list of exemptions.

The cost of the licence is also for the licensing authority to determine and therefore, even if the local authority decided to insist on certain 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.

I share your concern about the potential implications of Glasgow City Council's new policy. I am also concerned that there appears to be a suggestion that the council has no discretion in this matter and that the detail of its policy is somehow mandated by the Scottish Government - that is not the case.

I have therefore asked for an urgent meeting with the Licensing department to discuss the concerns that are being expressed to me by constituents and I would be happy to let you know the outcome of this.

In the meantime - if you haven't already done so - you may also wish to write to your local councillors about the matter.

Kind regards


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