Ian Austin

Independent for Dudley North

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Austin backs move to support small music venues

Dudley MP Ian Austin is campaigning to keep small, local grassroots music venues open.

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He wants local venues to qualify for reduced business rates and prevent the other clubs going the same way as the legendary JB’s in Dudley.

Now sadly closed, JB’s was renowned as the best small live music club in the country, showcasing local Black Country bands like the Wonderstuff and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin as well as some of the biggest names in music, like U2 and Thin Lizzy.

The business rates retail discount scheme, announced in the Autumn Budget 2018 does not currently include grassroots music venues by stating that they “are not similar in nature” to pubs and clubs.

Yet small music venues are an important part of many towns and cities. Many are situated on the high street generating business and contributing to their local economies. They often operate throughout the day and into the evening, supporting the night time economy by providing entertainment and selling drinks.

Sadly, small music venues have been closing at an alarming rate. 35 per cent have closed over the last decade. Rising business rates are a key reason behind this. The 2017 revaluation has amounted to a 31 per cent increase in payable business rates at these venues with rateable values growing by 25 per cent.

Ian Austin said:

“I remember many great nights at JB’s in Dudley – the best small live music venue in the country! It was a tragedy when it closed.

“I think these music venues are as important to high streets as pubs and clubs, and should be paying reduced business rates to give them a small boost to help keep them open.

“I have signed a letter to the Chancellor ahead of the Spring Budget to try and get small music venues added to the business rates retail discount scheme and I hope he listens before we see many more closing their doors for good.”

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