Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Investing rather than spending our way out of the crisis.

I was in Leamington at the weekend catching up on some Christmas shopping, looking on as shoppers picked over the bleached carcass of Woolworths who were now offering 60% off, no bailout for Woolworths.

Yet we have seen massive support for the banks while we see little relief for people who face loosing their homes, the same tax payers who funded the bailout before their jobs fell victim to the economy. At the same time the government is considering propping up the car industry so they can make cars no one can afford to buy.

I wonder whether we have got out priorities right. Yes we need to support jobs, but wouldn’t it be better to fund something we all need. We could spend the money on and extension to the High Speed rail network for example from London to the Midlands and North of England, providing a viable alternative to road and air travel. Or we could build the Severn Barrage that would generate the equivalent of Four Nuclear Power Stations which would make a significant contribution to reducing our carbon footprint and assist in our energy security.

If we are to spend our way out of this crisis, perhaps we should spend it one something that would create a legacy that could last decades and benefit us all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Police State tackles live music!

I have just read about Form 696 on Facebook. This is a new regulation in London (perhaps coming to a venue near you). This is an appalling intrusion into the culture of music lovers in London which could threaten a thriving activity enjoyed by performers and audiences across the country. Just what the Police want with this information is anybodies guess. What about pubs such as my local frequented by many musicians in Warwick, where impromptu musical activity can happen at any moment. Under these new regulations would such a treat for patrons be banned.

This new piece of bureaucracy will force licensees to reveal a mass of information about performers. Publicans and managers of other small venues are forced to comply with a new piece of bureaucracy called Form 696.

The form demands that licensees give police a mass of detail, including the names, aliases, private addresses and phone numbers of all musicians and other performers appearing at their venue, and the ethnic background of the likely audience. (what happens if the form says they expect a 60% black or ethnic minority audience and only 50% turn up?)

Failure to comply could mean the loss of a licence or even a fine and imprisonment. It applies in 21 London boroughs, but professionals in the music business fear that if it becomes accepted, it will be copied in other cities. These new rules will make putting on live bands next to impossible for most small venues. An 'open mic' night could not happen under such rules.

Feargal Sharkey (singer of Teenage Kicks) is campaigning against the new rules - see below for more details.Please sign the petition on the 10 Downing Street website against 696. See here: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Scrapthe696/

I have many friends in the musical community in Warwick & Leamington and oppose these measures fully! I will be lobbying my Parliamentary colleagues to get this intrusion into the very fabric of our society stopped.