- Posted by: Mike Hedges MS
- Category: Press Releases
Mike Hedges AM uses petition debate at Senedd to call for more live music venues and a halt to the closure of ones already operating.
Mike said… ‘I recall good times when I was younger attending a variety of bands in different locations in Swansea; I saw the Clash in Swansea in the late 70s before they hit the big time. As I said in my speech, a lot of these venues have now closed; this is a shame, both in the sense that people are deprived opportunities to listen to music live, other than in mega venues which hold 1000s of people, and in the sense that local talented musicians are deprived of the chance to hone their skills in front of a live audience.
I would like to see local authorities encouraging live music venues through sympathetic development and licensing of such venues. It would be great to reduce the falling number of live music venues in our communities.’
Can I thank my successor as Chair of the Petitions Committee for bringing this forward today? As was said earlier by my successor as Chair of the Petitions Committee, this came from a Standing Order change that allows consideration of any petition that has more than 5,000 signatures for debate on the floor of the Chamber. It’s an excellent example of the direct involvement of the public in the work of the Assembly in a Plenary session. I was Chair of the Petitions Committee at the time of our recommendation to the Business Committee of the 5,000-signature threshold and when it was agreed to ask for a debate on the petition. Can I thank the Business Committee for allowing this debate today? I would also like to thank Rhun ap Iorwerth and the Plaid Cymru group for withdrawing a debate on this issue earlier this year. I do not think that we’d have been allowed a debate on the petition if we’d had a Plaid Cymru debate six weeks ago. I think that people would have said, ‘We’ve already debated it’. So, can I honestly say thank you very much for allowing this to happen and for allowing the debate on the petition to actually take place? I and, I’m sure, the rest of the Members here really appreciate you doing that.
The petition meets all the key criteria: it has more than 5,000 signatures; it has genuine public interest; and it is a problem that is going to have to be addressed at some stage. At the Petitions Committee, we agonised over the number of signatures necessary to automatically request a debate. Set it too high and no-one will ever meet the threshold. Set it too low, and the requests will be a regular occurrence and, dare I say it, the Business Committee would not be really pleased to be receiving one every week. The number 5,000 came from the 100,000 at Westminster, and we are approximately 5 per cent of the population, and it has worked. The number has been reached, but only once, over an issue that really has engaged the public.
On live music itself, if I look at Swansea and the live music venues I attended in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, the Patti Pavilion is now a restaurant, the Marina Nite Spot, which was known locally Dora’s, is now closed, Top Rank closed and is currently being demolished. There have been new venues opened, but they tend to be smaller. A number of pubs and clubs provide live music. In Morriston that includes, or included up until recently, places like the Millers Arms, Morriston RFC, Ynystawe cricket and football club and Morriston golf club. Whilst welcome, these are small venues. We also have the Liberty Stadium, which has hosted Pink and the Stereophonics, and a number of other major groups. But there’s a difference, isn’t there, between 20,000 to 30,000 and 100? And that little gap there is really where we’ve lost out and lost out massively.
I don’t believe that you can have too many music venues. People like listening to live music. The opportunity should be there. It is also true that late-night live music and flats and houses do not always make good neighbours, and sports grounds sometimes have difficulties with neighbours regarding noise and the ball going into their gardens. On both I have the same answer: who was there first? If the music venue or sports pitch was there first, the developer and the people moving in knew what they were moving into. They knew what was there. It is blatantly unfair to move in and then start complaining about something that was there before the building was built, never mind before you moved in.
Even more unfair is if licensing takes that into account. If you move in next to a music venue, expect to hear music. You know what its licence is. If you do not like music or music up until the time of the licence, don’t move in there. What we cannot have is a music venue curtailed by people moving into new developments and then getting the music stopped or finished so early that people do not attend.
Conversely, you should not be able to set up a late-night music venue in the middle of a residential street. We need a system that’s fair to everybody. If it’s there, you know what you’re moving into. I’ll speak for myself: there’s a garage in front of my house. If somebody decided to build a music venue there, I’d be unhappy. But it wasn’t there when I moved in and I didn’t have a choice. When you make a choice to move in next to a music venue, then you’ve got to accept that’s what you’re moving in next to. You can’t say, ‘I’ve been here now for some time. I don’t like it.’ You knew what you were moving into. There should be no late-night licences for any new venues in residential streets, but if it exists, it shouldn’t be punished because somebody else has built houses or flats near it. That’s what’s I call ‘chwarae teg’. Thank you