Anger over events move
Top events across the north-east could be cancelled if the council forces through a 700% increase in the cost of entertainment licences.
Aberdeenshire Council wants to raise the fee from £ 90 to £ 750 to cover administration costs for large-scale public events. But organisers of events are furious, and described the proposals as a “kick in the teeth” to those who work hard to bring visitors from across the globe to the north-east.
All Highland games, outdoor concerts, gala days and festivals – even those run on a not-forprofit basis – must obtain a public entertainment licence to ensure events are safely managed. The council insist their plans, which are currently out to consultation, reflect the fact there has not been a fee increase in years.
But event organisers
“No increase to the fees for many years”
warned the rise could be the “nail in the coffin” for some groups. Roger Goodyear, organiser of the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in Portsoy, said he was “extremely disappointed” with the plans – and admitted it may mean the team has to scale back.
However, licensing committee chairman Richard Cowling insisted it was necessary to consider the changes. “There has been no increase to the fees for many years and, in some cases, the cost of processing a licence is now more than four times as much as the fee charged.”
The consultation will run until January 23, and members of the public, community groups and businesses are being urged to have their say on changes to a variety of the council’s civic licences.
Every year people love a good day out at an impressive array of outdoor events across the north-east, but now they are under threat.
Festivals, fairs and games are part of the culture, but some organisers might be forced to scrap them due to proposed increases in council licence fees.
Public entertainment licences for larger “complex events” could rocket from £90 to £750– or around700%. A three-year licence for amodest event would go up from £90 to £375, with a one-off show more than doubling to £190.
Aberdeenshire Council is reviewing its licence structure, including taxi drivers possibly being charged £100 instead of £40. Officials argue that they currently lose money through processing individual licences to the tune of almost £16,000 a year. Councils have to deliver value for money, of course, and appear to be in a perpetual financial crisis.
Almost £16,000 a year hardly registers on the radar for councils turning over millions each year, but it all adds up. What does not add up is why such a blanket approach is being used when the council’s list of licence holders is a mix of businesses making profit and volunteers who give up their own time to entertain the public – and merely wish to break even.
Surely, a distinction has to be made here, especially as the public audiences who would be hurt by these increased charges are already bearing the brunt of other council cuts. Give us a break, they might say.
“The council list of licence holders is amix of businesses making profit and volunteers”