Can Play, Won’t Pay

David Sherry, Painted Hair Performance, digital print, 53 x 53cm, edition of 4. © David SherryWithout a healthy cultural life there is no self-determination, nobody to imagine nationhood, to generate an image of who we might have been, of who we are, and of what we might like to become.

I got an artistic licence
Twenty quid for a colour
Five quid for a black ‘n’ white’
– John Cooper Clarke

Recent changes to public entertainment licensing not only debilitate the professional and semi-professional ‘cultural sector’ in Scotland, they undermine the very idea that all Scottish citizens can and should freely participate in the production and consumption of ‘culture’. The intention to license free public events seriously threatens to derail the outcome of the independence referendum by handing a trump card to a hitherto unlikely voice of Unionism: Scotland’s artists, musicians, actors and writers.

No strangers to the politics of culture, Labour bought wholesale into the myth of cultural entepreneurialism once proffered by bloviators such as Richard Florida and Charles Leadbeater. The cultural economy was their answer to the r-UK’s perilous running-on-empty post-industrialism. The global economic crash has thoroughly discredited such utilitarian and neo-liberal approaches to cultural governance and removed Labour from power into the bargain. North of the border, we have a chance to reject bogus ideas of ‘Culture’ as a kind of unproblematised national identity, as the legitimation of a limited communities and customs as a centripetal unifying force, as ‘entertainment’, a sector of the economy, a type of entrepreneurialism. Scotland has, uniquely at this point in history, a chance to break with the warped logic of the cultural economy and 19th century cultural nationalism alike and instead enable genuine cultural democracy.

Unfortunately, post-Labour Scotland is not at the vanguard in finding ways out of the cultural malaise that the cultural economy has left behind. On the contrary, it would seem that we are faced with something far worse. Not only do we have a renewed fixation with the role that culture can play in developing the economy rather than in, say, how our understanding of ‘work’ may be subjectivised differently, we have full, unfettered state intervention in culture in the form of a state-corporatist intolerance of ‘unlicensed’ activities.

The idea that the Scottish Parliament can legislate what is and is not culture is laughable and reveals the provincial character of the SNP when it comes to cultural politics and the politics of culture. It shows a failure to grasp what Michael Gardiner has called ‘The Cultural Roots of British Devolution’ – that independence is not social, political or economic, but cultural. Without a healthy cultural life there is no self-determination, nobody to imagine nationhood, to generate an image of who we might have been, of who we are, and of what we might like to become. In a stateless nation like Scotland, culture has long been the way that politics has manifested itself. Politics is symbolic in Scotland, since, until 1999 at least, there were no other channels to present a politics of self-determination. Symbolic capital, in the form of mutual reciprocity and gift economics, is as paramount here in politics as it is in the arts. This is why so much of Scotland’s arts are grassroots, bottom-up, there has been no ‘top’ to oppress down, or at least, none close enough to these activities to take any interest in them. Culture in Scotland is decentralised and will remain so, in spite of the government’s blundering over the wording of this act. This is what makes Scotland different to highly centralised states such as France and England and this is what we must focus on nourishing if we really want to live in a different type of nation state.

‘Culture’ is the locus of the SNP’s case of independence. The economy plays a part, yes, but the debate around the economy is unpredictable and unmappable. Scotland may or may not be financially better off if it went it alone, we will never really know. The independence argument has to be won on cultural grounds, that Scots would benefit from cultural independence, from cultural self-determination as a nation-state. I have no doubt that this is true and that supporting such a position involves acceptance of the enculturalisation of politics in Scotland. I have doubts, however, about the SNP’s ability to conceive of culture as anything beyond a point-scoring, opportunistic stunt aimed at undermining Unionism. I don’t decry such stunts in a political context, they are well played on the whole against an unworthy Unionist opponent, but they are generally caricatures of Scottishness. They should not be mistaken for the broader cultural landscape in Scotland.

Culture, to paraphrase the great Welsh scholar Raymond Williams, is ordinary. Culture is what we do, it’s how we live our lives, it’s not something separate or just relevant to ‘the arts’. Economics is cultural (a ritualistic, symbolic representation of wealth), politics is cultural, sport is cultural….. To think that ‘culture’ can be separated out from other activities and monetised as ‘entertainment’ is to fail to grasp the inate ordinariness of culture.

There has been an angry outcry from across the arts in Scotland regarding the Scottish Government’s intention to licence free events – and rightly so. The backlash has focused around two arguments:

The first argument is that the grassroots is where artists learn their trade, it’s where they sow the seeds of greater things. So, in the Scottish press we hear much of Franz Ferdinand’s much mythologised apprenticeship at the Chateau in Glasgow and, perhaps if the journalist isn’t quite so lazy, the story of Django Django establishing the Embassy in Edinburgh. Certainly, there’s no doubt about this, you have to start somewhere and the arts scenes in Scotland’s cities are fertile ground for new arts of international importance. But why do we have to focus on the perceived ‘success’ of Scotland’s more ‘famous’ artists to legitimatise the very existence of the arts? This is a bit like saying that we need chip shops to ensure the market for Michelin-star Dauphinoise. We don’t, we need chip shops because people like chips. We can enjoy chips and also enjoy Dauphinoise. We have a right to all of these things as part of the rich fabric of culture. Why does there have to be a ‘product’? Culture is a process, an event, not an outcome. Why does it have to relate to the promotion of a particular area of Scotland? Scotland isn’t just Glasgow and Edinburgh, culture is produced everywhere and should be subject to the same levels of attention, protection and assistance.

Many people, artists or not, establish cultural activities in Scotland – readings, meetings, workshops, talks, events, exhibitions – that are freely accessible. They do this voluntarily, for no payment and expect no financial return. There’s no need for this activity to be justified in terms of it being a seedbed for tomorrow’s top talent. It’s better to state, simply, that this is our birthright, our human right to culture. The United Nation’s 1948 Declaration of Human Rights enshrines this right, the right to freely participate in culture and to do so without interference or approval from the state. This right is infringed by the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government is attempting to determine who can participate in citizenship by demanding that local councils licence our activities (against their will it would seem). We all have the right to participate and to citizenship and we must hold our government to account for seeking to deny us this right.

The second argument is that the bill will kill off the arts, that people will stop freely participating in culture, that they will cancel events and move to a country where culture is valued and encouraged. My feeling is that the bill will not cripple the arts, on the contrary it already seems to have galvanized an otherwise diverse and fractious sector of the Scottish populace. The arts will simply have no choice but to operate illegally. This is an absurd situation, one that is reminiscent of Swift’s Modest Proposal. Culture cannot be legislated for or against – the arts will continue without licences for how can anyone cancel culture, how might we outlaw the arts? Councils are powerless to pursue ‘perpetrators of culture’ if any and every act we partake in is cultural. Let’s apply for licences for any and all of the ‘public’ and ‘entertaining’ aspects of our everyday lives – every council across Scotland will be swamped with paperwork. The law is an ass, it is unworkable. It’s up to the arts to prove this by taking affirmative action against licencing by overloading the system to breaking point.

The bill in anathema to cultural traits that the SNP would like to promote, the idea of Scots solidarity, of the democratic intellect that allegedly marks a split with Anglo-British solipsism and possessive individualism. These national imaginaries, if they have any power or currency at all, will quickly bite the hand that feeds. The SNP have made a grave error in offending the nation’s artists, writers and musicians for, not only are they famously resourceful and imaginative in their protest, they have a voice that is heard far beyond Scotland’s borders and they will be heard very loudly and very clearly. If the SNP are serious about separation, their assault on culture must be immediately repealed.

Much damage has been done by the SNP’s failure to grasp the basic infrastructure of Scottish culture, the cultural communities of practice typical of small self-reliant nations. If the SNP want to remain in power beyond the next Holyrood election, they must make amends and go further than simply repeal the act. The Scottish Government must make it easier for people to participate in culture, for more free events to happen freely. They need to devolve culture in a way that engages citizenship. The grassroots are where this already happens. They simply need to recognise this and legislate with their health in mind, incentivising local council’s to open up their empty buildings for cultural activities for peppercorn rents, helping councils support health and safety at small events and encouraging people to produce their own culture. This is the true meaning of self-determination, without it, there is no ‘Scottish independence.’

Comments (27)

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  1. Glasgow forced into sense.

    Dumfries and Galloway, hugely dependent on the emerging cultural sector for regeneration have opted for a commonsense approach.

    http://thecommonty.blogspot.com/2012/02/sign-of-things-to-come.html?showComment=1329507420209#comment-c6523446370307519706

  2. Matt Riggott says:

    I’d heard nothing of this until your article, so thanks for bringing something of such importance to my attention. After reading around the matter though I’m not sure the SNP should the be the focus of your ire — at least, not now the bill has been enacted.

    It seems to me the SNP intended only to remove the loophole that kept free events from being licensed, not to define culture by statute. The real power lies with Scotland’s 32 councils: it’s they who can decide what events need a licence, and even whether free events should be licensed. To quote solicitor Stephen McGowan, “the licensing of public entertainment is an ‘optional’ civic licence […] it is a matter for each licensing authority to decide whether or not public entertainment events should require a licence, and secondly to decide what forms of entertainment are treated as ‘entertainment’ for licensing purposes”.

    After initially opposing the change Glasgow City Council decided free events should be licensed, only to change their mind. Edinburgh council seems (even in the Scotsman article linked to in the previous comment) to being trying to do the same, although we shall have to reserve judgement.

    But what of the other 30 councils? As you say, “Scotland isn’t just Glasgow and Edinburgh”. Will artists in Fife, the Borders, the Highlands have the same freedom? And what assurances do we have that councils won’t change their rules in the future?

    1. Neil Mulholland says:

      Very true, the councils across Scotland can do the right thing and leave free events unlicenced, I hope they do. However, the Government has made the error in having given them the power to do this in the first place. Councils and Governments alike must not be given this power by voters – it’s an infringement of our human rights. The Scottish Government should revise the act to make sure that free events are not licenced and we should continue the campaign against the bill until this happens.

  3. Yvonne says:

    this is best articulate and thought driven article i have seen yet on this matter… hats off…

    “incentivising local council’s to open up their empty buildings for cultural activities for peppercorn rents, helping councils support health and safety at small events and encouraging people to produce their own culture”

    this is exactly the point i’ve been trying to get accross to various parties in ayrshire and with other organisations, it makes complete sense but no-one seems to be listening… especially in town centres where they are crying about the “death of the high street”… give people central places they can go to that will encourage community and creativity and people will be happier in their environment and also shop in their towns

  4. Indy says:

    This whole thing is really nonsense. It is 100 per cent at the discretion of local authorities to decide what kinds of events to license and what to charge.The fact that you don’t know that says a lot really about the quality of your argument. The provisions were brought in specifically to allow the licensing of large scale free to enter public events. It didn’t make it mandatory and it should never have affected the kind of events you are talking about.

    Some councils – like Glasgow – started off just being completely stupid about it..Their argument was that because the law had been changed it meant that all of the events which were not on the exempt list which THEY CREATED would require a license. A 5 year old could see that what they ought to do is simply to change the list – which they have complete discretion to do and which they have now done.

    Problem solved.

    1. Lyle Lanley says:

      Indy, the list, or resolution, you refer to was created in 1983 when it could not possibly be forseen that legislators in a Scottish Parliament would remove the exemption for a licence for events where no payment was previously required.

      That resolution, which is created via powers in the Civic Government Act 1982, was carried over when the reform was instituted in the Criminal Justice and Licensing Act. Aside from the fact that changing a resolution requires a public consultation and also a nine month lead in to the reform to allow affected parties to adjust to any change, an event can only in or out of the resolution.

      In otherwords, a certain kind of events can only avoid the need for a licence if there is no mention of them on the resolution whatsoever, which would completely defeat the attempt to ensure large-scale free events of that kind are licensed. The reform demands that either a licence is required for all events under a certain category, regardless of scale or entry fee, or not at all.

      The law, as it currently stands, is a very blunt instrument that takes no account of the collateral damage it will cause to small, free events.
      There is still considerable work to be done before the problem is solved and law becomes sufficiently nuanced to address the problem it was intended to deal with – ie the licensing of large, free events.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Thanking you CH. I can think of someone who will make good use of that animation… 🙂

  5. Neil Mulholland says:

    It’s clear that councils have this discression – my point is that they should not have been awarded this power in the first place. The blame for this lies with Scotland’s Parliament and is the fault of the SNP. Councils should not be scapegoats for this farce.

    1. Indy says:

      Why do you think they should not have that power in certain cases?

      Look at it practically. What does it mean when an event has to be licensed?

      Firstly it means that notice has to be given. People in the vicinty have to be told that an event is planned and they have to be given the opportunity to register any objections. Where a large scale free to enter event is planned that is reasonable.

      Secondly it means that the organisers have to register with the Council, they need to be contactable etc and they will need to be able to answer questions about the organisation of the evemt e.g. access for emergency vehicles.

      Again, for large scale events, that is entirely reasonable.and your opposition is unreasonable. At what point would you think a free to enter event required to be advertised and its organisation registered? If they were expecting 500 people? 5000? 50,0000?

      1. Neil Mulholland says:

        The events that are threatened are, in general, able to host 50 guests. They are on the scale of a house party. Many of these events are held in venues that are already specifically established for small events (e.g. cafes and galleries) and so should not require to licence each and every thing they do. Other events are pop up and spontaneous and can be held where and when a suitable space becomes temporarily available. They would all be illegal (not possible to give the required notice if you decide to host an impromptu talk, use a pop-up space, or an event in relation to a breaking issue nor would they be able to afford the licence anyway). Large events are a different matter – by their nature they must be planned in advance and are seldom free (those that are are subsidised in a way that requires a long period of fundraising) – they were already accommodated in the previous legislation. They are run by large funded organisations, and so have the money and resources to be licenced. Small events are run by individuals, with no funding and no resources. The problem is that the act doesn’t recognise this crucial difference when it comes to scale, a more nuanced approach is needed – one size does not fit all. That could, as you suggest, include setting clear guidelines on numbers and a sliding scale for public events. We don’t have this. But this, in the end, is a nannying approach, a negative rather than a positive reaction to a perceived need to ensure public order when there is no problem, no such need. The real need is to have more of our own culture. Such small events should be creatively encouraged rather than managed – many cities take this approach in an attempt to renew their cities, temporarily offering semi-derelict spacesand empty shops for cultural not-for-profit use. (A bit like building a skate park.) This way everyone knows what’s going on and everyone gets what they need. Renew Newcastle in Australia is a good model for Scotland to look at. The Scottish Government do not seem to know what’s going on at all, Creative Scotland is a disaster, and this most recent debacle is shameful given how important these small events are in terms of Scotland’s international cultural reputation. This is a huge problem for a government that is allegedly in favour of self-determination. For people who spend all of their spare time to make these things happen, this really is the final straw.

      2. Jen McGregor says:

        What does it mean to license an event? Apart from the things Neil has already mentioned in his reply, it means a large amount of form-filling and visits from numerous council departments (producer Chloe Dear estimated 10-12 different departments). According to the yet-to-be-updated information currently on the Edinburgh Council website, if you’re not a registered charity (which most independent visual artists, performance artists, poets, writers and musicians are not) a license could cost upwards of £600. That’s a lot of work and a very steep price for a one-off free event.

        Don’t underestimate the importance of small free events. This is where artists of all kinds cut their teeth and engage with audiences in a way that a large-scale event doesn’t allow. I run free rehearsed readings, and it is vital that they remain free so that the playwrights have the freedom to test early drafts of their work and get feedback. The moment we charge, writers feel the pressure to deliver a finished product. Charging changes the relationship with the audience.

        Today’s grassroots artists are tomorrow’s mainstream, and while they remain grassroots they challenge the current mainstream. The artists currently doing tiny gigs in pubs, reading their poems in cafes, developing their plays at free readings – they are vital contributors to a vibrant arts scene. Without them, the arts stagnate and become mediocre.

        Edinburgh Council saw the necessity for an exemption for such events before. Nothing has changed except the wording of the legislation, and we have heard from representatives of both Edinburgh Council and Holyrood that crushing small-scale free events was not the intention behind that change. All we want them to do is rectify their mistake, rather than pressing on and damaging the country’s arts scene in the process.

    2. Scott Hames says:

      Thanks to Neil for a bracing and provocative post. Much to agree with here, and lots requiring a more thoughtful response than this. But parts of it left me scratching my head…

      ‘The idea that the Scottish Parliament can legislate what is and is not culture is laughable and reveals the provincial character of the SNP when it comes to cultural politics and the politics of culture’ — not sure where ‘provincial’ comes into this, but the whole claim sounds like a straw-man. I don’t see how the changes to licensing create a centralised power to legislate what counts as culture. Can you elaborate? And unless I mistake the underpinning legislation was passed in 2010 — before the SNP came to power.

      ‘In a stateless nation like Scotland, culture has long been the way that politics has manifested itself. Politics is symbolic in Scotland, since, until 1999 at least, there were no other channels to present a politics of self-determination’ – this claim is very familiar in (nationalist) literary criticism about the ‘new renaissance’ in Scottish writing. I’m dubious about it.

      First, it accepts in advance that ‘politics’ is what happens in a national legislature. Of course there was and is a very ‘political’ nexus of so-called ‘civic institutions’ through which power and patronage have operated in Scotland — undemocratically, and in a complex symbiotic relationship with ‘cultural’ authority (e.g. the SAC). Second, it seems to position ‘culture’ as a kind of romantic expressivism which is ipso facto about ‘voicing’ (or ‘manifesting’) some ur-claim to autonomy — autonomy from a particular set of institutions, from a particular ideology of cultural value or nationality, etc — in the teeth of essentially repressive institutional machinery. My beef is how simplistic the ‘politics of culture’ based on this template tend to be — i.e. the demand to keep politics out of culture (Neil wisely side-steps this), or the reduction of ‘culture’ to the expression and affirmation of identity. Alex Thomson and Aaron Kelly have interesting thoughts on all this; the former here (http://www.ijsl.stir.ac.uk/issue3/thomson.htm) and the latter in his essay ‘James Kelman and the Deterritorialization of Power’.

      “Culture’ is the locus of the SNP’s case of independence’ — interesting debate to be had here. In fact, culture features hardly at all in the ‘official’ case for independence. My hunch is that the SNP are confident the cultural case will make itself; though I think the idea that a few cultural heroes (mainly writers and painters) paved the way for devolution — a move toward limited self-government understood as a re-authentication of Scottishness — is flawed in a number of ways, not least for sidelining the breathtaking cynicism of the party-political machinations which actually delivered Holyrood, going back to the mid-70s.

      I look forward to more proper debate on the ‘cultural’ side of the debate thus far; thanks again to Neil for this opening salvo.

      1. Scott Hames says:

        PS – forgive the howler about the underpinning legislation being passed before the SNP came to power. It wasn’t — apologies. In fact, forget my first point entirely, which Neil has already addressed in other replies.

      2. JBS says:

        ‘James Kelman and the Deterritorialization of Power’?

        That’s your men Deleuze, Guattari, and Foucault again. That’s them made an essay title like that possible. Man, have they got a lot to answer for. Or they would have, if they weren’t dead.

      3. Neil Mulholland says:

        There’s a tendency in post-devolution Scotland for politicians to discard the ‘arm’s length’ Keynesian approach of the post-war era (if they even know of this) in place of a more party-political programme of ‘culture’-as-industry. This ammounts to a quantification of culture replacing a qualititative approach. The Keynesian approach was just as political as what has replaced it, a form of paternalism heavily influenced by his Bloomsbury circle. It was a flawed model that imagined that the arts were autonomous from the rest of society, but it was a more practical working-model that what we have right now. What we have now is economic determinism. Everything is discussed in the same terms as everything else, what’s the bottom line – how much does it cost, how much can we make from it? Politics needs to enage with more than economics, cultural policy should be more than economically determined. I’d like to see this emerge in Scotland. This needs to be discussed, as you say, but it’s not being discussed in official party politics. I want the politics back in culture.

        Clearly culture is political just as politics is cultural. The problem that arises in the PEL case is not so much that the autonomy of culture is being threatened (for it has no ‘autonomy’) but that human rights are being undermined as ‘culture’ is used legitimise a very narrow set of ideas about how we should behave (this is a form of provincialism, a territorialisation of culture). Artists are guilty of ringfencing ‘culture’ and using it as shorthand for their own ends as much as politicians are – they do not have special dispensation over what constitutes culture any more than politicians do. You are right that the lazy myth of auteurism, of the heroic makar flying in the face of authority is one used frequently here and abroad to promote Scottish culture (e.g. the ‘Glasgow Miracle’). It’s nonsense, but I’m not sure that it is actually harmful. The difference between such a myth (of autonomy) and institutions, is that institutions can cause damage to the very fabric of cultural life by enacting poor legislation. This is a great example of this in action – a ban Easter egg races, free raves, singing in the pub….. all down to lazy legislation.

        The art world can be seen as a form of ‘weak’ institution (although this is difficult to substantiate fully – it is not institutional in the way that the National Galleries, Police or Government are), as can the literary or music worlds. Since institutions are formed by people, they are just part of an ever shifting culture as a whole, they can’t unilaterally regulate something that they are a subset of. The same may be said of politics, politics doesn’t just happen in Holyrood, everything has a political dimension. So it doesn’t make sense to imagine that institutions have the sole power to legitimise sactioned approaches to culture or politics (although this is often what they try to do and, wrongly, claim to have authority to enact). Institutions such as Government and Creative Scotland are political but then so is culture as a whole. We shouldn’t confuse institutions with what they claim to represent. Culture is ordinary.

        The SNP are ‘cultural’ in as much as they often stray from the usual economic territory of carreer politicians into cultural territory (albeit, not officially as you say). They haven’t cracked the institutional side of the arts in Scotland, they have run with the fag end of Labour’s cultural economy in a less subtle form, but this doesn’t mean that they have no grasp on the culture dimension of Scottish politics. Quite the opposite. They love to play the Scottish card, but they do so only in a winning hand.

  6. Tocasaid says:

    And what of the Gaelic angle?

    The article states: “The idea that the Scottish Parliament can legislate what is and is not culture is laughable and reveals the provincial character of the SNP when it comes to cultural politics and the politics of culture”

    Maybe, but officially sanctioned funding has without doubt provided a boost to many cultural activities. Both the RMSAD and the Feis movement has produced numerous talented artists with a sound grasp of traditional music. The Ur-Sgeul project has revitalised modern Gaelic fiction. Numerous other activities from Ceilidh Culture to FilmG to the Blas festival would probably not exist without continued funding. Strange that none of this is mentioned despite the laudable ‘need to get away from Edinburgh and Glasgow’ sentiment.

    The article seems to sweep with a wide brush. Could it be a bit more specific please?

    1. Neil Mulholland says:

      Everyday activities that are taken for granted, such as people gathering in a pub to sing and play music together, now need to be planned at least two months in advance and licenced. Not sure how that assists participatory arts such as traditional music. My local pub has different musicians popping in every night to play impromptu – they come from all over the world and do so unannounced. If they play their instruments on April 1st they will be breaking the law.

      We need a big brush for this because this bill impacts upon all cultural activity across all of Scotland (not just specific cases such as the ‘Glasgow Miracle’, music festivals, Gaelic, etc). That’s about as wide as it gets. This should not be confused with funded events, its about culture in its widest and most ordinary sense. The issue remains not with funded cultural events but with the vast majority of free cultural activity that people participate in – this is NOT funded, doesn’t seek funding and doesn’t need it. It will continue with or without funding – that’s not the issue here. This activity should not be regulated or taxed – it never has been and there is no good reason why it should be now. The tax is a poll tax, it does not differentiate between funded, non-funded, profit, not-for-profit. It will force free unfunded events to close or operate illegally as they have no economy to fund this tax.

      While Governments can and should attempt to promote cultural activity, they can’t legislate what culture is and is not – if they try to shut off free participation in cultural life (as futile and misguided as this is) they breach our human rights.

      1. Indy says:

        I find this whole debate really depressing. No events such as the one described by Neil is going to be affected by this legislation by one iota. The idea of people having to apply for a license to have a sing song down the pub is clearly stupid. So treat it as a stupid idea. Say hey councillors this idea is a bit stupid. Point it out to them, they will say yeah OK fair point, clearly our licensing team has got the wrong end of the stick here and then – as in Glasgow – the entire Licensing Board will tell the officers to get a grip.

        It is really really easily fixed if you avoid writing essays and just point out the obvious stupidity of it.

  7. Tocasaid says:

    Oh, and the annual punk festival on Cramond Island! DIY, autonomy, culture, art, community…
    http://www.edinburghseasons.com/2009-06-01/edinburghs-cramond-island/

  8. Anon says:

    Jen – totally agree that small events should not be licensed and that is not the purpose of the legislation.

    But what would you think of a case where an elderly lady attended a “Psychic Fayre” and ended up being ripped off for thousands of pounds by a totally unscrupulous person who told her he was communicating with her dead husband. And what would you think when it emerged that he had past convictions for the same? Don’t you think that a little form filling is quite reasonable if it would help prevent such a situation by giving the Council the information they need to run a criminal records check?

  9. Matt Riggott says:

    Highland Council have got it wrong:

    A community group has criticised a council after it was told it would need a public entertainment licence for a children’s Easter egg hunt. […] Highland Council said charges for some free events would be required from April due to changes in legislation.

    BBC News: Anger as council says children’s Easter egg hunt needs licence

  10. hugo first says:

    Really speaking out on the issues there Neil – nice to see you’ve included your wee clique of public school scots that you consider to be ah……. contributing to some sort of cultural upsurge. Although in reality they’re just the usual emissaries of colonialism – yourself included, but nice try at postitioning yourself.

    Was young athenians, an exhibition with the hatred of socially excluded scots at its core, part of this wonderful cultural resurgence ? Every single exhibit mocked the poor and every single artist was one of your ‘mates’.

    Scotland will be free when Neil Mullholland has been strangled with the last copy of Variant.

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