Cambridge's MP, Julian Huppert has responded to my letter and has agreed to pursue the issue of the Licensing Act further within parliament. The link below is the official press release.
Clearly this is excellent news but it is only the beginning, please feel free to use the main thrust of the letter to contact other MPs to add more weight to the proposal to include consultation with the outdoor events industry during a licensing act review with a view to protecting the industry from hostile authorities.
My original letter is here http://strawberrychair.blogspot.com/2010_05_01_archive.html, clearly not everyone will be concerned with SF but there will be an event near you or that you attend that is suffering.
The licensing act is being misused by police forces around the country. It is very easy for a force or authority to call for a review with only hazy reference to the licensing objectives as sufficient cause to do so. They are only obliged to provide further information as little as 4 days before the review hearing goes before committee. Even then they are not required to provide detail and there is no obligation for them to negotiate or work towards achieving a solution that works for everyone, not just the police. The intention of the licensing act such that there is regulation, within the industry, I have no problem with this, safe well managed events are a must. But the act is also intended to enable events and businesses to flourish, and the licensing objectives are there as markers that event organisers should work very hard to achieve, but if they are not 100% achieved one year then this should NOT mean the ending of an event, merely that the event should adapt.
The radical black and white police interpretation of the act, combined with the fact that; at any stage in the vital final planning stages the review hearing can be called means that annual one off events are at the mercy of the police and other responsible authorities. Increasingly, well managed and historically safe events are being forced to cancel due to the horrendous increase in work load required from defending their licenses from loose cases against them.
When this is twinned with the polices ability to demand "full cost recovery" for the level of policing that they and only they determine means that the outdoor events and festival industry is currently completely under the fist of the police and is very much at risk of sinking.
The festival and event industry has thrived over the last ten years and has become an essential, vibrant and culturally diverse asset to the UK. The industry has born a new creative vibe throughout the UK that has deeply contributed in our music and media industry being one of the countries strongest and fastest growing.
Please help us to keep this great and wonderful part of our lives alive. Write to your MP