Billy Bragg, members of Pink Floyd and ‘60s Eurovision star Sandie Shaw linked-up with music industry reps and MPs outside the Houses of Parliament to voice support for a piece of U.K. legislation that supporters say could protect grassroots music venues and nurture talent.
They braved the cold on Wednesday as parliament prepared to discuss approving the Planning (Agent of Change) Bill, which would require property developers to consider pre-existing clubs, bars and gig venues before proceeding with their plans. Should it come to pass, the onus would then be placed on developers to come up with solutions for noise complaints from their future tenants by funding extra soundproofing or taking other measures.
The bill was “well received” by a majority of MPs, according to IQ, and a second reading is scheduled for Jan. 19.
The proposed legislation is promoted by former Government minister John Spellar MP and backed by more than 75 MPs and peers, and throng of high-profile stars including Ray Davies, Brian Eno, Imogen Heap, Chrissie Hynde and Paul McCartney, who has said his “career could have been very different” without the country’s network of live venues.
Advocates point to the adoption of Agent of Change policies in Australia as an example of the best-available route.
The campaign comes after some 35% of music venues across the country have closed for business in the past decade, according to umbrella trade association U.K. Music, with London’s Astoria, Marquee, 12 Bar Club and Madame Jojos among the best-known casualties.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has committed to the principle in his London Plan 2018, the Welsh government is delivering on it and the Scottish Government is said to be considering the proposals.
“We need to send a strong and powerful message to Parliament that the UK’s Grassroots Music Venues are important to our local communities and to our music industry,” notes Music Venue Trust, which supports the measures as does the U.K. Music, the Musicians’ Union, The Music Industries Association and others.
“It’s simple common sense to protect music venues from people moving into new flats next door and complaining they can hear music, and to insist that developers who want to build next door to music venues take the responsibility of making sure our music venues can continue to be in our towns and cities.”
Music Venue Trust has been campaigning for the U.K. government to introduce agent of change into law since 2015.