Published by Camden New Journal by Pavan Amara on 11th MArch 2014
BUSKERS in Camden Town have lost their High Court battle against Camden Council’s new licensing policy for street performers, but vowed this afternoon (Tuesday) that they “will not stop here”.
The musicians are fighting new rules which demand they all have licences, bans amplified music and sets a 9pm curfew for performances.
Instruments can be confiscated under the new rules which the Town Hall says it introduced to protect residents from disturbance.
These rules were challenged by a two-day judicial review earlier this month, but a High Court ruling released today by Mrs Justice Patterson at the Royal Courts of Justice said Camden did not need to tear up its plans.
Jonny Walker, from the Keep Streets Live campaign group, said the High Court judge had taken the council’s argument at “face value”.
He said: “We profoundly disagree with her judgement and will now seek to have this case heard by the Court of Appeal and to ask Camden not to enforce their policy until the case is heard by a higher court. Under Camden’s policy even singing a protest song without a licence could be a criminal offence. In a democratic society, singing a song in the street should never be a potential criminal offence.”
He added that buskers had the option of going to the House of Lords and then to Strasbourg to fight their case.
The full 26-page judgement was published today, and stated that the policy “would be in pursuit of a legitimate aim”.
Mrs Justice Patterson noted that the scheme “is excessive because it applies across the borough, applies to many activities which could reasonably be exempt, and applies a sweeping judgement against certain forms of street entertainment”.
But she added that “large varieties of busking are untouched, there is no restriction on the content of any busking and the fees for a standard licence are low”.
Cllr Maryam Eslamdoust, who is the council’s chairwoman of licensing, said she was pleased with the result.
She added: “The court has affirmed that regulation is not prohibition and we look forward to a responsible busking scene living alongside our residents.”