Peer post – Lord Clement-Jones on leafleting

This year Lord Clement-Jones secured the passage of a Private Members’ Bill through Parliament lifting unneccessary restrictions on live music in pubs. Now he has turned his attentions to a fresh campaign – ensuring acts aren’t prevented from letting people know they’re on

Lord Clement-Jones
Lord Clement-Jones

EARLIER this year Don Foster and I secured the passage of my Private Members’ Bill, now the Live Music Act, through both Houses and it came into effect on October 1.

This ensures that between the hours of 8pm and 11pm no licence is needed for the performance of amplified live music for venues with an audience of up to 200 and none at any time or place for unamplified music. Als,o unlike before the passing of the Act, you can now put a piano in the street confident that you are not committing a criminal offence! 

I hope that it will have a major impact, by ensuring there are more venues for young musicians and pubs and clubs are able to be more economically viable through the performancer of live music. But in politics you are only as good as your next campaign and there is more to be done to secure our musical future.

Up  and down the country local authoritie,s using powers granted by the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005,  have been restricting leafleting for cultural events, including performances at comedy clubs, theatres, music venues, art galleries and even village halls.

Under the 2005 Act, councils can designate areas within which people must buy a licence to hand out leaflets. Nearly a third of councils now restrict leafleting, and licences are prohibitively expensive – £350 for a Saturday in Basildo,; £50 per person per day in Oldham and Rugby, and £262 per distributor in Wolverhampton.

These rules have been catastrophic for local organisations which rely on leafleting to build an audience, but cannot afford such fees. A flyer ban in Leicester Square caused the collapse of several comedy nights and a dramatic reduction of audiences. One Women’s Institute was threatened with a fine for handing out leaflets about their art exhibition. Oxford student societies and arts events have to pay £100 a month for leafleting. The leafleting licence system in Brighton caused the decline of smaller, more experimental music nights, which cannot afford the fee. All the while, of course, professional leaflet companies can afford to carry on distributing literature.

The problem could be solved by an amendment to the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, to allow exemption for cultural and community events. The Act already provides exemption for political and religious leafleting, or leafleting on behalf of a charity. A wider exemption would avoid the unnecessary penalisation of informal events that are so valuable to community life.

Leafleting is a key civic freedom, with a long tradition in this country going back at least to the late 17th century when the requirement for printers to be licenced was lifted, and should not be restricted without very good reason.

Problems with litter should be dealt with through provision of litter bins and other common-sense measures, not by placing restrictions on our civil rights. Leaflets advertising cultural events, an important expression of our community activity, should not be treated in the same way as a burger wrapper or crisp packet.

We re now mounting a massive petition demonstrating public support for an exemption for cultural and community events, laying the ground for a Private Members’ Bill.

A letter signed by prominent comedians such as Al Murray and musicians and artists appeared in the Telegraph this week announcing the launch of the petition. 

The online petition is at

 My post on the Live Music Exchange site is here –

 Please do sign and tell other supporters!

Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.

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