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The MU's Joint Open Letter to Department of Transport to Protect Touring in the EU

The MU has warned that Government proposals on haulage risks bringing cost effective, accessible touring for small bands to a ‘full stop’.

Published: 14 July 2021 | 6:04 PM
splitter van on a countryside road
‘Splitter vans’ allow both people and instruments or equipment to be transported in the same van and are essential piece of equipment for many touring artists. Photo: Shutterstock

The MU has coordinated an industry-wide response to the Department for Transport (DfT) Call for Evidence on ‘Support for UK specialist events hauliers operating in the EU under the Trade and Co-Operation Agreement (TCA).’

Our main concerns focus on ‘splitter vans’, which are a low-cost and accessible way for small and medium scale and emerging artists to tour. ‘Splitter vans’ allow both people and instruments or equipment to be transported in the same van and are essential piece of equipment for many touring artists, but their use in the future has now been put into jeopardy due to the TCA. The proposals in the TCA state that the use of a splitter van, ‘carrying both passengers and goods, would not be permitted’, because the transport of good and the transport of people falls between two posts.

Without a solution, artists will be caught in the crossfire and see their ability to tour cost effectively ended.

In the letter we have asked the Department for Transport to:

  • Put in place a legal framework allowing vehicles to carry both passengers and goods for commercial use within the EU
  • Provide a total exemption from cabotage and cross trade rules for vehicles that carry both passengers and equipment for the purpose of cultural performances, rehearsals and recordings
  • Put the issues relating to splitter vans be put onto the agenda of the next meeting between Lord Frost and his EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic and the next Partnership Council meeting. 

Dave Webster, MU National Organiser for Live Performance, said:

The Department of Transport call for evidence that closes today places two options in front of the haulage industry as a potential solution to large scale touring. However, we believe these options will not cater for the needs of medium and small scale touring artists and bands. We have garnered support from across the music industry and the haulage industry for the arguments we set out in our response. We hope that Government will be listening and can respond with a workable and sustainable solution for all touring musicians.

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