Q For many years I have offered live music at my pub by way of one man playing his guitar and singing alone to a backing tape. This has always been very popular but recently the local authority have told me that I should have a public entertainment licence (PEL) in place to be able to offer this entertainment. I has never had one of these in the past, why do I need to apply for this now? Additionally, will the fact that my pub is a listed building affect the application for a PEL at all?
A You may be aware that the Licensing Act 1964 allows limited entertainment to take place without a PEL. The entertainment can be provided by either the reproduction of recorded sound or by not more than two performers. It is not possible to combine these methods of entertainment so the entertainment you describe falls outside of the exemption allowed by the licensing act. The local authority therefore advised that a PEL is required. It is not possible to state exactly why they have told you about this now, they may not have been aware of the entertainment taking place in your pub beforehand or they may be tightening up on the PEL issues in your area.
If you wish to provide this entertainment in the future you must obtain a PEL. The application will need to be sent to the local authority, the police and the fire officer. It is important that you do apply for the PEL if you want to continue providing the entertainment as without it being in place you could be liable to a fine of up to £5,000 and/or imprisonment for three months.
You mentioned that the premises is a listed building. This will probably affect the application quite seriously. If you are required to make any alterations to the premises by, say, the fire officer, you may need listed building consents to do so from the planning authority. It would be a good idea to try and have a meeting with the fire officer and if possible an entertainments officer before lodging the application so that you know in advance whether there are likely to be any requirements to alter the premises. The fire officer may also be able to give you an indication of the proposed occupancy for the premises as this can be affected by the number and width of the fire exits, which is sometimes an issue in older buildings.