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Why we need a community license for events

Right now if a charity or community holds an event, it risks breaking the law, getting fined up to £20,000 or jail – just because of the enormity of paperwork and red tape!

Imagine how many charities and communities just give up? How many feel it's not worthwhile, or are fearful of the penalties they may face if they get the forms wrong???

We want to see all this replaced with a simple licence as follows.

• ‘universal licence’, for simple, low risk, and relatively small events.

• not limited to a single event but a general permission for small groups to operate within certain restrictions and parameters.

• Ideally, such a licence would be:
1. Available for free, or at a low cost;
2. Permanent or cover a generous time period;
3. For up to 1500 people - to cover normal community sized events;
4. Linked to the organisation such as church, club, WI or community group, as opposed to an individual;
5. Flexible, allowing multiple small events at short notice, not just for a specific event.

• Enforcement would simply involve the licence being immediately withdrawn were it misused.

Lets *encourage* people to hold community events rather than put them off through fear of law-breaking, fines and/or jail!

PRESS RELEASE Saturday 04-Jul-2009

Press release issued 4th July 2009 for immediate use

Charities lose £thousands unless people break the law

A Devon man is to challenge the event licensing processes that he claims are stifling charities and community group fundraising.

Richard Searight of Tavistock wants to see an end to the crippling legal regulations that people face when putting on a fundraising event. He proposes replacing the myriad of forms and fines that usually put people off holding events, with a simple permanent license.

Richard claims that paperwork and forms are now are required for everything from charging for glass of wine in church, to running the village dog show.

To illustrate the issue, his plan is to run legal protest events run all over the UK when charity cheques will to be torn up. He said: “If the money goes to any good causes the organisers could face fines up to £20,000 or 6 months in prison! Basic premise ‘If it’s useless it’s legal’”

The first of these mass-cheque-tear-up events will be held in Devon on 5th, 6th and 7th July to demonstrate how the back-breaking legislation process is preventing a simple fundraising activity.

Richard Searight of Tavistock, organiser of the first event said: “Last summer we tried to create a fantastic community building event but it was destroyed by the regulations, licenses and miles of red tape. It was then that I realised the same legislation is killing thousands perhaps tens of thousands of other community events every year. For example, organisations like Christian Aid have to create specific legislation every year in order just to run Christian Aid week legally.”

“Local communities don’t have that privilege. If they want to sell a glass of wine at the back of church, play ‘My Way’ over the sound system, put on a panto, have a firework party with refreshments … they have to get multiple licenses – or dodge around them – or simply break the law. An example of what communities do NOT want to apply for is the ten page Temporary Events Notice license form ( ) - and / or be subject to a £20,000 fine or 6 months in prison if they fill it in wrong!”

Speaking about the event in July, Richard said: “It became clear that the only way to hold our event and stay legal was to exclude the community and not raise money – in other words hold a completely useless event. Hence this year we are Tearing Up Cheques for charity. It is legal because it is useless.”

According to Richard it is crucial that a simple, permanent, community events license be created which is designed to encourage community events - not regulate them out of existence.

Richard’s event is designed to underline the stupidity of the current burgeoning law: “Our MP Geoffrey Cox is attending; we have a vintage plane providing rides on a strictly invitation only, expenses only basis. However people will be encouraged to bring along cheques which they would have donated to their favourite charities. Every single one will be torn up otherwise we will break the regulations”. The event has to be useless to be legal

Geoffrey Cox MP, QC “While health and safety restrictions and other regulations are often well-intentioned and may even be sensible enough on their own, the cumulative impact of them is to stifle and render impractical the very events that they are meant to ensure the safety for.

It is a tragedy that so many charitable and community events , often ones which have been taking place for many years, have to be cancelled because of the slightest hint of risk. If local authorities and health and safety officers always exercised as much common sense as the event organisers, it would be far better for all concerned”

Richard continues: “I don’t think many people realise the implications of this. Charity events go on every day, and frankly the vast majority of them are simply breaking the law because they have not complied with the one or other the licenses that they should have lodged. We need a simple permanent license which allows communities to carry on being community.”

For more information on the legal situation check out this website, and register your interest to find out more about our forthcoming petition.


More info

For more information contact: Richard Searight,
01822 860148 or 0788 6414226

Release issued by: Sue Haswell, BFM, 01626 864458 or

Links/Background on Geoffrey Cox QC MP

Sign our Downing Street petition -

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