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Leaflet rules ‘catastrophic’ for small venues and comedy

A letter in the Daily Telegraph  from over 100 signatories including comedian Al Murray, Radiohead manager Brian Message, Live Nation boss Paul Latham and promoter Harvey Goldsmith says that comedy nights, arts festivals and local music venues are being driven out of business by councils demanding hefty fees for the right to hand out leaflets with campaigners saying that the cost of licensing is having “catastrophic” effect on the arts. Around one in three councils restrict leafleting, with charges running to hundreds of pounds per day. The letter points out that a licence to hand out flyers in Basildon on a Saturday costs £350 – although many find the practice itself annoying with one commentator saying “comedy nights, arts festivals and local music venues are probably the biggest producers of litter and detritus in our communities” which councils then have to clear up, and others pointing out that digital solutions such as e-flyers and social networking are a much cleaner solution.

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 allows local authorities to designate areas “where it is satisfied that the land is being defaced by the discarding of free printed matter” (or litter!) where a licence is required, but campaigners argue that local authorities are using the provisions as a source of revenue. Lord Clement-Jones, the Lib Dem peer, is planning to bring a private member’s bill requesting an exemption from leafleting restrictions for small-scale cultural and community events pointing out that “The Act already provides exemption for political and religious leafleting, or leafleting on behalf of a charity” and saying “A wider exemption would avoid the unnecessary penalisation of small-scale events that are so valuable to community life.”

The issue was raised at the recent BRITISH ARTS FESTIVAL ASSOCIATION  ‘Capacity to Endure‘ conference at the Barbican (8th and 9th November) which focussed on sustainability on its final day. A number of comments were made about both the need for flyers – even in the digital age – matched by comments about waste and recycling issues. It’s an interesting conundrum – many venues and artistes still rely on paper and card flyers  to promote shows, and they can now be printed in recycled paper with friendly inks – and recycled –  and as yet no one really knows the true environmental ‘cost’ in terms of greenhouse gas emissions from digital communications. But we can all see the result of thousands of discarded flyers littering streets …..

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/9675903/Handing-out-leaflets.html