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Scottish Parliament urged to protect live music venues

Music Venue Trust, UK Music and Scotland's grassroots music venue sector have united behind a call to Members of the Scottish Parliament to take action to protect Scotland's live music venues in the Planning (Scotland) Bill

The Scottish Parliament is being urged to protect live music venues as it finalises the Planning (Scotland) Bill.

Music Venue Trust, UK Music and Scotland’s grassroots music venue sector have united behind a call to Members of the Scottish Parliament to take action to protect Scotland’s live music venues in the Planning Bill.

The much-discussed and debated Bill began its final passage through Holyrood on June 18, with an opportunity to safeguard live music venues.

Since 2015, the live music industry has been urging the Scottish Government to act to prevent the closure of live music venues across Scotland. The loss of these venues will have a dramatic effect on communities, deprives towns and cities of access to culture, impose negative impacts on the night time economy, and remove opportunities for Scottish artists to develop and grow.

Michael Dugher of UK Music said: “We thank the Scottish Parliament for all its efforts to support music venues. However, as we reach this crucial stage in the Planning Bill, all MSPs now need to be unambiguous in their support. Amendments to the Bill need to have teeth and so need to be explicit that live music venues are the intended beneficiaries.”

Venues right across Scotland have united to send a letter to all MSPs asking them to take the opportunity to keep the phrase ‘live music venues’ in the Planning (Scotland) Bill. The signatories noted that MSPs can vote to keep sections of the Bill that contain the phrase ‘live music venues’, or adopt amendments, which seek to ensure that live music venues retain their place in the Planning Bill.

Geoff Ellis of DF Concerts/King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut commented: “It’s vital that Parliament ensures that a reference to live music venues remains in the Bill. This is an opportunity for plain speaking. If Scotland wants to protect live music venues, it can speak plainly and choose to do so by ensuring that the words ‘live music venues’ are in the Planning (Scotland) Bill.”

A lack of protection in the planning process poses an immediate threat to iconic venues in Scotland, such as King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut and Sub Club, which are already surrounded by developments and under threat from more planning applications.

This issue was recognised previously by the Scottish government. On 16 February 2018, the minister for local government housing and planning asked the chief planner to write to all planning authorities emphasising the importance of these venues, and expressed the need to take action to balance the planning process so that these social, economic and cultural assets were not lost.

Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust added: “It seems incredible that despite all the discussion and debate about the need to take action to protect Scotland’s vital live music venues, expressed repeatedly by MSPs of all parties, by the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs and the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, at this final hurdle there is a very real risk that Scottish Parliament will fail to act.

“We strongly urge all MSPs to look again at the Planning (Scotland) Bill and ensure that at the very least the phrase ‘live music venues’ appears in the final text.”

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