Brexit: Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood 'worried' UK government doesn't understand importance of concert hauliers

Radiohead's bassist has said he is "worried the UK government doesn't understand cultural capital", as the band joined calls for what the industry called a fair deal for UK concert hauliers.

Colin Greenwood, from the long established British rock band Radiohead, said: "It's vitally important that the government help support crucial parts of our country's economy that brings in around £70 billion to the UK economy."

He said: "Radiohead's career was forged in the crucible of European touring - playing to 200 clubs in places like Paris and Strasbourg and everything was really easy and straightforward to do.

"It meant we learnt out trade and we could develop and then we had the privilege of having these amazing companies when we became successful so it's all part of the same picture.

"I am worried that the UK government doesn't understand how cultural capital of its country is developed and nurtured."

His comments come as 50 leading music industry figures and concert hauliers have joined forces to urge the prime minister to allow UK firms to continue taking tours across the EU - warning the industry faces ruin in the wake of the pandemic and new post-Brexit trade restrictions.

In a letter to Boris Johnson, the group said "unworkable" new cabotage (the right to operate transport services within a particular territory) and trade rules which only allow British-registered trucks three stops in Europe before having to return to the UK will stop the delivery of European concert tours and other musical performances.

Road Haulage Association Chief Executive Richard Burnett said: "If the UK events haulage industry is to have any chance of survival they need an EU-wide easement so that trucks moving touring equipment can continue to make multiple stops across Europe."

Mr Greenwood stressed the importance of the concert industry and the impact Brexit and the pandemic is currently having on workers' livelihoods.

He said: "The fact that we have such a precious and viable business, that makes up around 80% of the European concert business whether it's trucking or staging it's so important, it's been nurtured and developed for the past 40 to 50 years and all these new regulations after Brexit could threaten the livelihoods of British citizens who make such a successful living."

He added: "The new bureaucracy could threaten the livelihoods of thousands of British citizens who make the UK events industry a success story.

"Live music is a vital part of our country’s economy.

"It’s important that government offers support, by helping haulage operators deal with the new documentation following Brexit; including the new European driving permits, new customs permits that they’re going to need and all the new red tape."

Mark Pemberton, representing the Association of British Orchestras, said: "The limits on cabotage have the potential to kill orchestral touring."

Mr Pemberton continued: "A typical tour might involve multiple concerts in one country, followed by concerts in another, meaning a limit of two laden journeys within the EU makes using a UK-registered vehicle impossible.

"But with orchestras often using their own trucks, kitted out at vast expense to protect fragile and high-value instruments, with humidity and temperature controls, it simply isn’t an option to use an EU-based commercial haulier either," he added.

Mr Pemberton continued: "Without an exemption from these cabotage limits, it is hard to see how the UK’s world-leading orchestras can continue to perform at Europe’s major concert halls and festivals."

The letter’s signatories said: "Following the pandemic there will be high demand for events including exhibitions, festivals, concerts and live music – but this will only be possible if specialist hauliers exist across the continent.

"A ‘Cultural Easement’ would allow them to continue undertaking EU-wide movements for concert and event industries.

"Without specialist concert and events trucks, hundreds of suppliers employing thousands of skilled crews will be unable to provide their services around Europe on music tours undertaken by UK and international musicians."

The signatories also called for short-term financial support for concert hauliers, and a "last resort" grants option for firms to set up bridgehead operations in the EU until easements are agreed.