Have a happy New Year

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Related tags: Public entertainment licence, Proposals

I am the owner of a small country inn. I do not and have never provided entertainment at the premises due to the costs, the size of the drinking area...

I am the owner of a small country inn. I do not and have never provided entertainment at the premises due to the costs, the size of the drinking area and the red tape involved. However, I am under pressure from my locals to provide some form of entertainment this New Year's Eve. One of the regulars who is a part time DJ has agreed to supply disco equipment, and I propose to hire a marquee for the pub garden. Will I need to obtain one or more special licences for this? What are the cost implications? It has been suggested that I allow the DJ to run the event as a private party, but I presume there will be all sorts of red tape involved in doing that. I would appreciate your guidance or alternative suggestions.

I am not entirely clear as to your proposals regarding the disco equipment, but I would ask you to note that a licence must be obtained from the local authority if public entertainment is to be provided. Any relevant entertainment which is not covered by such a licence could lead to a potential maximum fine of £20,000 or imprisonment for a maximum of six months. There are certain exceptions set out under Section 182 of the Licensing Act 1964 which states a licence is not required for "public entertainment by way of music and singing only which is provided solely by the reproduction of recorded sound, or by not more than two performers, or sometimes in one of those ways and sometimes in the other." If you are proposing to provide recorded music only, then you will not require a licence, however, if you have a DJ performing too, then you will require a public entertainment licence.

In view of the fact that you will only be providing entertainment for one evening, you will require an occasional public entertainment licence. The cost will depend on your local authority and any works you may be asked to undertake. With regards to your proposal to erect a marquee in the pub garden it is possible that you will require the consent of the licensing justices prior to installing it. Under Section 20 of the Licensing Act 1964 you will require approval in the following circumstances:

if the alteration gives increased facilities for drinking in a public or common part of the premises he alteration conceals from observation a public or common part of the premises used for drinking he alteration affects the communication between the public part of the premises where alcohol is sold and the remainder of the premises.

If you merely propose to erect a marquee in the pub garden, it is possible that you may not fall within these categories, but clearly it will depend on the particular layout of your pub as to whether you will effect communication or observation.

However, if you propose to set up a bar and either sell or supply alcohol you will need to give notice to the court, together with plans of the premises as existing and as proposed. Each court requires a different notice period prior to the relevant transfer session date, and you will have to consider your local court's policy guidelines, but most insist on 21 days. You will also have to serve the same details on the police, local authority and fire authority. The court fee for such application is £16.

As long as the entertainment is provided as a genuinely private party you would not need a public entertainment licence, but this must not be a ruse to avoid the relevant legislation. I would not suggest that the regulars of the pub for example, paying an admission fee would constitute a private party. The law would regard those attending as members of the public and the need for a public entertainment licence would arise.

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