HEREFORDSHIRE is missing out on live music because of the council’s licensing policy.

That is the view of several people in the county who believe people aged 16 and over should be able to attend live music concerts.

Current licensing policies mean that only people aged 18 plus are able to attend such events where alcohol is served, so youngsters are unable to either play in gigs or go to them.

Anthony Murphy, manager of the Jailhouse, said: “In regards to live music, Hereford is at a disadvantage to almost every other city – outside the county it is the norm for live music gigs to be open to people above the age of 16 plus and in many cases 14 plus for example the Guildhall in Gloucester or The Two Pigs in Cheltenham.

“A lot of well known touring bands agents won’t even consider booking a show unless its 16 plus – for example when we had The Wombats and Hadouken! on at The Jailhouse, Hereford was the only city on their entire tour that was 18-plus.

“I just want to clarify that what we are talking about is giving young people the chance to come and watch live music, we are not talking about allowing those under 18 to run amok in a licensed premises, 16 plus should only be relevant when an event’s focus is live music and not drinking.

“We are talking about giving young people the chance to watch live music in a safe environment where those over the age of 18 can enjoy a drink as well. Live music gigs are extremely low-risk in regards to disorder and our records reflect that, they are safe and friendly and revolve around going out to watch a band, the focus isn’t on drinking it’s on music, and I believe it would be beneficial for young people in Hereford to see there is a different side to going out as opposed to the binge-drinking culture we see on most weekends.”

He added that The Jailhouse likes to work closely with police and licensing in all aspects and would welcome the chance to be able to compete on the same level as other cities in the UK if measures were in place to run the events professionally and safely.

One young county band, with ages ranging between 13 and 15, have even had to take their live performances into neighbouring counties.

Rose Kibble, band manager and mother of 14-yearold Billy, guitarist for The Phaze, said: “We have a talented young band here but they just can’t play in Hereford.

They are the right age to start in the industry, they are young.

“We can’t be the only band that’s under 18 and it just seems such a shame. Hereford Live is doing its utmost to support live music but the real people that need encouragement are the under 18s to get them inspired.

“All bands irrespective of age should be given the chance to perform, as long as they are accompanied by responsible adults.”

And Joe Schiavon, project manager of competition OMG Herefordshire and music promoter, agreed that the restriction means that businesses and people miss out.

But Mike Pigrem, head of trading standards and licensing at Herefordshire Council, insists there is “no blanket restriction” and licensed premises are free to apply for a temporary variation of licence for specific events. Each licensed premise has its own “bespoke”

conditions, he said.

He said premises such as the county colleges could be a good alternative and a dry venue for music events.