Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Council misleading public with buck-passing
Sandra White MSP has welcomed Glasgow City Council’s decision to rethink its plans to insist that all free events have public entertainment licences, but has condemned the council’s attempts to mislead the public by hiding behind national legislation.
The Council has wrongly claimed that Scottish Government legislation is forcing it to charge even temporary free exhibitions for public licences, when it fact the council itself has the discretion to decide whether a licence is required or not.
SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin Ms White said: “Glasgow City Council has mishandled this licensing issue from the outset and it is no wonder that so many people in Glasgow are rightly appalled at the conditions and charges they were proposing to impose on the city’s arts and culture scene.
“What makes it worse is that the council has tried to shift the blame on to Scottish Government legislation, when in fact this decision is not required by law at all. There was never anything in the law to prevent Glasgow City Council from exempting all or some free events from the requirement to have a public licence, and to suggest otherwise is to mislead the public.
“The new law simply empowers councils to charge a licence fee to enter events – that is entirely appropriate since, without that power, they were powerless to regulate certain large scale free events, like raves. However, it is still up to the council to exempt any class of event it wishes.
“Glasgow City Council got itself into this situation because it failed to amend the definitions in its own list of licensable events to take account of the change in the law.
“I am glad that the council has now seen sense and is going to make the necessary changes to its own interpretation of the law, but no one should be in any doubt – this was a problem that was entirely of Glasgow City Council’s own making and it is their responsibility to sort it out and ensure that Glasgow’s world-leading arts and culture scene continues to thrive.”
The Policy Memorandum accompanying the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 states:
Section 126 – Licensing of public entertainment
525. The provisions amend the 1982 Act to remove the existing exemption for free events. The Task Group viewed it as unsatisfactory that licensing authorities are not able to control large scale public entertainments that are free to enter. It noted that 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 authority.