Cross-Party group of more than 70 MPs and peers urge ministers to seize "great opportunity" to save music venues

Conservative MP David Warburton, chair of the All Party Group (APPG) on Music, has written to senior Ministers and called on them to support a proposed new law to protect music venues.

In his role as chair of the 77-member group, Mr Warburton is urging the Government to support plans to enshrine the “Agent of Change” principle into planning law.

In his letter to Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid, Mr Warburton warns of the threat facing many smaller and grassroots music venues across the UK.

Mr Warburton says that, while live music contributes £1 billion a year to the UK economy and music tourists generate £4 billion in spending, there are “some worrying signs” facing the music business.

John Spellar MP speaking at Venues Day 2017

He highlights the cross-party support from MPs and peers on the APPG on Music for Labour MP and former Minister John Spellar’s Ten Minute Rule Bill to get Agent of Change on to the statute book.

Agent of Change means those who bring about a change must take responsibility for its impact. The proposals would mean developers would have to take account of the impact of any new scheme on pre-existing businesses, like music venues, before proceeding with their plans.

For example, that could mean a developer of new flats might have to pay for soundproofing at a music venue to cut the risk of new neighbours complaining about noise.

The Bill is already attracting support from across the music industry with key backers including UK Music, the industry’s umbrella body, and the Music Venue Trust which has warned around 35% of music venues have closed in the last decade.

In letters to Mr Javid, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley and Digital Minister Matt Hancock, Mr Warburton says:

“A growth in demand for property in UK cities has led to increasing rents and landlords selling to developers.

“This has placed rising financial burdens on pre-existing operators of grassroots music venues that are often established in popular areas for redevelopment and suddenly find themselves attracting noise complaints from new residents.

“I am sure you will agree with me in believing our music venues play a vital role in supporting the music industry’s infrastructure, nurturing our talent pipeline and ensuring a healthy industry across the country.

“I do hope you will further agree that John Spellar’s Bill presents a great opportunity for the Government to lead in this area.”

Commenting on Mr Warburton’s support for Agent of Change, UK Music chief executive Mr Dugher said:

“David Warburton is one of the most respected MPs and has been an authoritative and consistent champion of the music industry.

“It’s great that he and MPs from all parties in the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music have thrown their weight behind this crucial campaign to protect our music venues.

“We will keep working with our allies like the brilliant Music Venue Trust to save venues that are essential to producing the next generation of global British music stars. They are a key part of the nation’s cultural fabric, creating thousands of jobs and giving pleasure to millions of music fans.

“I hope that Ministers will listen to David Warburton and back the Spellar Bill.”