Don't let the Government stop the music say Sharma and the Denton Dancers
3rd February 2010
Government to hit local voluntary groups across Reading with new music charges.
Voluntary groups, charities, churches, village halls, and sports clubs across Reading face a new £20 million tax from Gordon Brown’s Government warns Alok Sharma, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Reading West. In the small print of obscure new regulations, the Government is abolishing charities’ and voluntary groups’ long-standing exemption from music licensing rules – hitting them with unexpected new bills just for holding events with recorded music or for playing a radio.
To date, voluntary groups have not had to pay for a so-called “PPL” performance rights licence in order to play recorded music. This exemption reflects the public benefit that such organisations provide, but this is now being abolished by the Government.
This will affect church worship, charity discos, tea dances, youth clubs, dancing groups, sports clubs and even charity shops which have a radio in their staff room. The changes are being imposed by Peter Mandelson’s Whitehall empire. The new levy will come into effect in April 2010 once the new regulations are ratified by Parliament. Conservatives are opposing these changes and standing up for local voluntary groups.
The Government admits that the new levies will cost voluntary groups £20 million a year. Some organisations will “cease playing music” because they cannot afford a licence, and it will hit a quarter of a million organisations – 140,000 charities, 6,750 charity shops, 66,440 sports clubs, 4,000 community buildings, 5,000 rural halls and 45,000 religious buildings.
These new levies are on top of bureaucratic rules imposed by the Licensing Act 2003, which requires expensive ‘premises licences’ for village halls to hold regular small-scale social functions, and which has imposed new red tape to play unamplified live music.
Alok Sharma said: “This is another heartless tax on charities, voluntary groups and community buildings and an assault on the fabric of British community life. The Government claims that this change is necessary to protect the music industry. However, in reality, it represents another stealth tax that could financially cripple the local groups and organisations that play such an important role in our local communities. Conservatives value the important role that voluntary groups play and we oppose the Government’s plans. The Government really needs to think again and not stop the music.”
Tilehurst resident Molly Denton, who runs the popular and successful local voluntary group The Denton Dancing and Social Club (www.dentondancing.co.uk/), is also very concerned by this Government proposal.
Molly said: “We have been running our social club for 21 years and going round entertaining with our dancers for 10 years and in this time we have raised over £34,000 for every local charity; this year we will be giving over £4,000 to Help for Heroes. If this Government proposal becomes law the Denton Dancers will have to stop entertaining the residents in nursing homes and clubs unless, of course, we give the Government the money that we now raise for local charities.”
Molly continued: “This is an irresponsible Government policy which will do great harm to voluntary and charity groups like the Denton Dancing and Social Club and I have written to Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson to make our views clear. Together with Alok Sharma, and others opposed to this policy, we are launching a local petition calling on the Government to reconsider its policy and we hope to deliver the petition to Gordon Brown’s doorstep at No. 10 Downing Street. I would urge all local residents to support our petition.”
Photo: Alok Sharma with Molly Denton and the Denton Dancers.