The live music industry is a vital part of the UK’s economy, contributing £1 billion annually. We have announced that the agent of change principle will now be included in the national planning policy framework, helping to protect music venues when new housing is built. We will continue working across Government, and with the industry and the Musicians Union, on a range of measures to support the live music industry.
From Arcade Fire at Wembley to Lovebox at Gunnersbury Park, big gigs in west London are booming, but small venues are on the brink of extinction. The Spinning Wheel in Ealing is now a Sainsbury’s and The Castle in Acton is earmarked to become student housing. What are the Government doing to protect our pubs from rocketing business rates, greedy developers and, now, the shortage of CO2 that is threatening to take the fizz out of beer for fans?
The hon. Lady mentions business rates. A £300 million rate relief fund is available to councils to provide flexible support to businesses, including music venues, which I accept cannot hike prices in order to protect themselves. I would draw her attention to successful small venues, such as Base Studios in Stourbridge, which has adopted a very entrepreneurial route and is thriving.
As thousands of fans pour into Wales this weekend for the Ed Sheeran concerts, what would my hon. Friend say to a disabled constituent of mine who was left incredibly distressed after paying more than £450 more for her tickets, owing to the so-called drip pricing tactic that Viagogo continues to use? I really thought that the Government were making progress on this. Why are people still being ripped off?
I assure my right hon. Friend that the Government are making progress. We have reformed the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to give more protection to consumers when they are purchasing from secondary ticketing sites. We have also brought in ban the bots legislation so that it is now illegal to use electronic means to secure more tickets that the number the original organisers state as a maximum.
I am a great admirer of the Ricoh stadium, although I am not sure it would qualify as a small music venue. Coventry benefits, of course, from being the city of culture in 2022, and I am sure that that will galvanise a huge amount of effort in support of what the hon. Gentleman requires.