DARWEN’S MP has urged small business owners to beware playing music, as investigators focus on the town.

Officials at PPL - a music licensing company working on behalf of performer and record companies - have been contacting business owners to check that they are legally allowed to recorded music or the radio.

Licences are a legal requirement for companies and can cost hundreds of pounds, depending on the extent of music played.

MP Jake Berry has spoken out in the House of Commons, questioning PPL’s practices and claiming it is unfair for small businesses to pay for a licence.

It comes as one antique repairer in the Whitehall area of Darwen was “hounded” for £250 despite working alone in a garage at home.

Mr Berry said: “I’m told that people at PPL make a phonecall to the business and see if they can hear a radio on in the background.

“This man in Whitehall is on his own, working from home and only has the radio on for a bit of company. Now he tells me the PPL have been hounding him with phonecalls every week demanding the money.

“I think it’s outrageous the way it’s been treated. I want other small business owners in Darwen to be aware of what can happen.

“I’ve raised the matter in parliament and I will be speaking to the appropriate minister about it as well.”

PPL spokesman Jonathan Morrish said: “We take customer service very seriously. We would only seek to license a business where we reasonably believe a licence is required and will always provide them with full written information and the opportunity to discuss the matter with us.

“We would also point out that PPL operates discretionary licensing policies for lone workers and home offices and if these apply to a business, then, despite the strict legal position, PPL will not require the owner to obtain a licence.”