Red tape scuppers village event

ORGANISERS of a charity concert have strongly criticised “increasingly complex” licensing laws after they were forced to axe the event or face a bill running into tens of thousands of pounds.

ORGANISERS of a charity concert have strongly criticised “increasingly complex” licensing laws after they were forced to axe the event or face a bill running into tens of thousands of pounds.

Members of the Lavenham Merchants Guild said they had no choice but to pull the plug on plans to stage the Glenn Miller Orchestra on the village's former Second World War airfield.

Now the group say they might not be able to hold any more fund raising concerts due to “baffling” red tape - which could deprive local groups and charities of income.

Tony Hepworth, treasurer of the Guild, said: “With all the statutory requirements, we just didn't think we could make any money. Everyone is extremely disappointed as we were looking forward to it and we put in a huge amount of effort.


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“We thought Lavenham airfield, with its echoes of World War Two, and the Glenn Miller Orchestra would have been a perfect combination.

“But there are so many complex requirements and so many different agencies to deal with - police, fire even the child protection agency, it's been baffling.

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“I thought the legislations were designed for pubs and nightclubs - not playing live music and having a drink in the middle of a field in the middle of nowhere.”

The concert, planned for July 1, was initially given the go-ahead by Babergh District Council's licensing sub-committee but more than ten pages of conditions were attached to the agreement, according to Mr Hepworth.

“The council has helped us and we do not blame them - but the event would have been unviable,” he added.

“We have held several events in the Market Square and the church and they have always been hugely popular.

“We didn't think this would be any different nor would we have any problems. Of course, we would always run any event safely and properly but we never thought putting on such an event would be rocket science.”

The concert, which was to be sponsored by the East Anglian Daily Times, was due to raise money for the village church and school.

A spokesman for Babergh District Council said: “Babergh is sorry to hear that organisers of the Lavenham Merchants Guild event felt there was no option but to cancel.

“Councillors did grant the application but there were factors that needed to be addressed in order to make sure the event complied with licensing laws and to ensure the safety of the public - that is why the conditions were imposed.

“The committee would be failing in its duty if it didn't note these factors and act accordingly.”

Lavenham Merchants Guild was set up to promote businesses in Lavenham and to ensure the well being of the village as a whole.

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