Gala fun under threat

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NEW licensing rules coming into effect this April have dismayed community groups who worry they will be too cash-strapped to hold local events.

Proposed changes to the Public Entertainment Licence (PEL) have caused concern as a wider range of events, including those that are free to enter, may now require a £79 licence from April 1, 2012.

And if you don’t get a licence if required, your individual event could be cancelled.

Consultation on PEL changes ended yesterday (Thursday) and the council executive will now make the final decision on what is included and what is not.

But what ‘public entertainment’ means has got some gala day committees and other event organisers worried that extra costs for individual civic week events may force some to be scrapped.

Susan White, secretary of Linlithgow and Linlithgow Bridge gala day committee said: “It costs almost £20,000 each year to put on Linlithgow and Linlithgow Bridge gala day - it’s a massive amount of money. If we were charged £79 per event, it would make a huge impact and it’s demoralising.”

John McKenzie, treasurer of Torphichen gala day committee called the proposed changes “money making measures.”

He added: “Any voluntary organisation which wishes to do something beneficial in its community will have one hand tied behind its back and, given the amount of hurdles now in front of people, many gala days, clubs and organisations will go to the wall.”

The council’s draft list of activities now requiring a PEL include dance halls, exhibitions of people or performing animals, concerts, events using temporary raised structures, those where over 100 people are present and activities involving inflatable structures.

Snooker/pool halls, health clubs, musical shows and concert halls are among those that will no longer require a PEL.

West Lothian Council is urging all event organisers to seek legal advice on the types of licences required for local events. After the final decision is taken on what events are classed as ‘‘public entertainment’’, they will then be advertised. Organisers have nine months from then to apply for licences.

Donna Kelly, treasurer of Bridgend gala day committee, said: “It’s absolutely ridiculous. It might be okay for bigger organisations but if these rules are put into place it will be very hard for us.”

Changes to the PEL rules have been introduced across the country by the Scottish Government under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.