BRASS bands in Kirklees have been given an early Christmas present by the council.
They have been told: Play on, you don't need a permit.
Under the provision of the 2003 Licensing Act, which came into force in April this year, where music is provided at a venue which does not have a regular entertainment licence, a temporary licence has to be obtained.
And that applies to brass bands playing carols in the street.
However, a spokesman for Kirklees Licensing Department said it had been decided that in such cases it would not be necessary for a band to have such a permit.
But he stressed: "We do need to know where and when bands will be out playing."
If money is collected, then a separate licence authorising a collection has to be obtained.
The rules mean that anywhere music is being played and seats are provided for the public, then a temporary licence is required.
Also, if a band is engaged to provide music in such as a shopping mall, then the owner should have the required licence.
The story came to light when it was reported that the Callington Town Band, in Cornwall, had been told by its local authority that a temporary licence must be obtained for each of the seven outdoor appearances the band is making in the run-up to Christmas. A petition has been raised and sent to their local MP.
With each temporary music licence costing £21, it means the Cornish musicians will have to find almost £150 before a note is blown.
It also cast doubt over the tradition of playing in the street and collecting door to door from house.
Collections from street carolling, particularly in the town centre, can add quite a few pounds to the bands' bank balances and help defray some of the heavy cost of keeping a brass band in existence.
Brian Boothroyd, conductor of Marsden Junior Band, was unaware of the new regulation, although he was delighted that a bit of bureaucracy had been sidelined.
"We will be out playing carols," he said.
"On the Saturday before Christmas Colne Valley Lions will be collecting for us, just as they did last year," he added.
The new law will not affect Golcar Band. Said treasurer Brenda Atkins: "Our outdoor engagements at Christmas don't involve us collecting as we are engaged to play, but I will mention the situation to our secretary. We will have about 20 players on those engagements at Holmfirth and on the Piazza."
If bands have any queries about the new regulations, Kirklees Licensing Department, on 01484 223470, can help.