Page last updated at 17:01 GMT, Monday, 22 September 2008 18:01 UK

Clowns' tears at live music ban

Zippos clowns
The Licensing Act 2003 forbids the playing of live music without a licence.

Clowns appearing at a circus in Birmingham have been silenced by licensing regulators who banned them from playing their trumpets.

Zippos Circus said Birmingham City Council officials told them the show could not go on unless the clowns dropped the musical part of their act.

The circus, performing in Calthorpe Park, Edgbaston, until September 23, fell foul of the Licensing Act 2003.

The act forbids the playing of live music without a licence.

Circus owner Martin Burton said that applying for a licence was time-consuming and expensive and called for circuses to be exempt from the legislation.

'Ludicrous legislation'

Mr Burton said: "I'm a big fan of silent comedy, but this is nonsense.

"Live music is an essential part of traditional clowning, and for us to be told that they can't play instruments, even in the three minutes of the show which features trumpets, is laughable."

"Circuses should be exempt from this ludicrous legislation."

The circus will move to Sheffield for performances starting on 25 September.

Jacqui Kennedy, Birmingham City Council's director of regulatory services, said: "Under the Licensing Act 2003 elements of the programme proposed by Zippos would fall into the category of regulated entertainment.

"On that basis such events would require either a licence under the Licensing Act 2003, or a Temporary Event Notice under the same legislation.

"Birmingham City Council do not condone unlicensed events."

She said local authorities must ensure the four licensing objectives - the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, the prevention of public nuisance, the protection of children from harm - were not undermined.

"As with all legislation there are interpretation issues and each case is determined on its merits," she added.

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