The Scribbler

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Reading group faces censorship

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The Royal Standard Pub in Ely, Cambridge, where The Turning Point Group holds its readings

The Royal Standard Pub in Ely, Cambridge, where The Turning Point Group holds its readings

There is no doubt writers find it hard to get there work read at the best of times but now a group of writers in Ely, Cambridgeshire, are facing a potential £5 000 fine for reciting their work in a local pub.

The Turning Point Group, created by local playwright Paola Trimarco, has received financial support from the National Lottery Grant and offers a chance for young writers in the area to showcase their work at the Royal Standard public house on Fore Hill.

Unfortunately for the group it was publicity for the show which attracted the attention of the local councils licensing officer who alerted Turning Point to the fact that they didn’t have the correct license and that they may be liable for the sizable fine.

Although the pub has a license for live music the council insists that the Royal Standard will need another license for spoken word performances.

East Cambridgeshire District Council’s principal environmental health officer Liz Bailey is in charge of licensing. She said: “We have licenses for all sorts of reasons – fire and police need to check it is safe. It is not just us being petty. There needs to be certain checks in place.”

Ms Trimarco said: “Richard (manager of the Royal Standard) has been very supportive of our event. We brought in audiences of 20-25 on Tuesdays – normally a quiet night for pubs – and we got our grant partly because we were using alternative spaces for performance. With the Maltings and the Babylon Gallery closed, we were able to use a back room in the pub that has no bar, so people under 18 could come in through the separate entrance and enjoy performances too.

“There isn’t a lot going on in Ely on week nights,” she added. “Most of us go to Cambridge or even London for cultural events. We’ve had some success over the past eight months, with regular audiences and the grant coming in – but we are a little out of the ordinary. Do you want Ely to be another boring little market town? It seems the council say they want to support new events and aim not to create a dormitory town, and then contradict themselves.”

The Scribbler is in full support of the Turning Point Group and hope they will be able to continue their spoken word night at the Royal Standard in the future.

Words: Seamus Swords