DOG SHOWS, county shows and agricultural events have secured reassurance from Licensing Minister Richard Caborn that, in normal circumstances, they will not be subject to fees for large outdoor events proposed during a Government review of the licensing system.
It had been feared that the proposals, masterminded by Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, would affect hundreds of outdoor pop and jazz concerts at stately homes and country estates, along with Championship and Open Dog shows, garden shows, and point-to-point meetings.
Fundraising events for charities or for local schools and hospitals were also likely to be liable for the new charges. The minimum tax is £5,000, and this would rise on a sliding scale depending on the attendance figure. The money raised through the levy would be payable to the local council to cover the costs of health and safety checks by officials at the event.
However, during a meeting between the CLA and officials at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport last week, it was explained that only large events which fall under the revised Licensing Act will need to pay the additional fee. Activities affected include live music, dancing, the performance of a play and the sale of alcohol. While bars and public entertainment at agricultural shows will require a licence, it would seem unlikely that this would trigger the extra fee for the main event.
‘Indications that agricultural shows, such as traditional county shows and the Country Land and Business Association’s Game Fair, will not be subject to the charges is a great reassurance for the rural economy,’ said Bruce Wilson-North, Director General of the CLA.
Licensing Minister, Richard Caborn stated: ‘Alcohol, music and dancing are some of the activities which fall under the Licensing Act and will be subject to the fees - most outdoor sports, flower shows and most of what goes on at an agricultural show should not.
‘We value agricultural events, music festivals and rural shows - they are an integral part of our culture and we want them to thrive.’
Chris Bushby, Chairman of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations commented, ‘We are reassured by the understanding, the Minister and members of DCMS have shown the industry especially in the cost implications that could have been levied.
‘We have welcomed the prompt response to the concerns of the industry by the Minister and we hope that the local authorities who will be enforcing this legislation, will interpret it fairly across the country following this resolve from the Ministry.’
The DCMS consultation paper proposes that from 7 February 2005 local authorities will issue standard charges to cover their costs for inspections and health and safety checks on one-off and annual events on temporary sites attended by 6,000 over more people.
Mr Wilson-North continued, ‘We now hope the government will now look at making the fees, where they are imposed, fair and proportionate to the inspection services delivered by the local authorities. We calculated that, had the CLA Game Fair been liable, the fees due would have been the equivalent of 119 days work – for a three day show. We welcome that the DCMS is now listening to our concerns,’ concluded Mr Wilson-North.