Carollers defy new law to raise £1,000

PUBLISHED: 08:06 05 January 2006 | UPDATED: 20:09 28 May 2010

CAROL singers were successful in raising over £1,000 for their charity even though they did not have special permission to go ahead with the concert under new licensing laws. The Friends of Uttlesford Crossroads could have faced a maximum of six months in

CAROL singers were successful in raising over £1,000 for their charity even though they did not have special permission to go ahead with the concert under new licensing laws.

The Friends of Uttlesford Crossroads could have faced a maximum of six months in jail under the Licensing Act 2003 because they did not have a temporary event notice to perform outside Tesco's superstore in Saffron Walden just before Christmas.

But the singers did not have any problems on the day and managed to collect the four figure sum for Uttlesford Crossroads to pay for the charity's care attendants to look after disabled people so their carers can have a break from their duties.

One of the charity's workers had contacted the licensing authority Uttlesford District Council beforehand to check the concert could go ahead.

At the end of December, the Reporter broke the news that the carol singers needed a temporary event notice because a performance of this nature in front of an audience is deemed a licensable activity.

But door-to-door carol singing is exempt from the legislation, which came into force in November, because it was not considered to be an organised public activity, and no licence was needed for singing in church,

Tesco's premises licence allowed the store to sell alcohol 24 hours-a-day, but although its Performing Rights Society licence allowed it to play recorded music on its premises it was not covered for public performances such as carol singing.

Instead, the temporary event notice would have permitted Tesco's to stage the event for up to four days provided no more than 499 people were in attendance at any one time.

The idea behind the Licensing Act was to enable pub's to open 24 hours and to give local residents more power in dealing with pubs where there were problems with anti-social behaviour by passing control over licensing to local councils.

But Crossroads scheme manager Victoria Stevenson told the Reporter she could not understand why the regulations clamped down on organised singing when a spontaneous outburst in a public place could cause a greater disturbance.

Care attendant Leuntje Starr said: "I think everybody thoroughly enjoyed it and we raised over £1,000 so it was worth doing. it was a lovely atmosphere."

Of the licensing situation, she said: "The last thing Uttlesford Crossroads wanted to do was anything that was against the law.

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