Busking and Public Space Protection Orders

Busking and Public Space Protection Orders

The Keep Streets Live Campaign is a not for profit organisation that advocates for public spaces that are open to informal offerings of art and music. We are concerned that the provisions in the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 for local authorities to apply for Public Spaces Protection Orders to restrict ‘activities that carried out within the authorities area which have a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality’ could easily be used to target buskers. The ‘reasonable grounds’ for introducing these new powers are so wide-ranging, all-encompassing and open to subjective interpretation that they might well be used to target informal performances of art and music on the grounds that some people don’t like buskers and find them annoying. In a House of Lords debate on January 21st Lord Clement-Jones, author of the Live Music Act 2012, sought reassurances from the government that the new legislation would not be used in an over-zealous way against musicians and street artists. Lord Clement-Jones asked ‘will local authorities ensure that these powers are exercised with proper consideration of the balance between freedom of expression and respect for private and family life, and will also point out the considerable existing body of nuisance and noise-abatement powers which local authorities already have to hand? Should we not be encouraging rather than discouraging busking, which is such an important part of our urban culture?’ The government response from Lord Taylor of Holbeach was that the legislation is aimed at ‘the antisocial minority who give street performers a bad name’. However, given that there is no requirement for judicial pre-authorisation for these new powers, they are wide open to abuse and the problems of differentiating between ‘the antisocial minority’ and ‘genuine performers’ are manifold.

 

In Birmingham buskers have been given letters stating that from October 2014 the police and local authority can apply for PSPOs against buskers and implying that these powers will be used if buskers don’t sign up to an extensive range of restrictions such as auditions, pre-booking only authorised spots and strict time limits on pitches. In this way PSPOs become a covert way of restricting freedom of expression under the pretense of protecting the quality of life of those in the locality. In reality local authorities have an enormous range of existing statutory powers which can be used to target noise nuisance and antisocial behaviour such as the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Public Order 1986. These new, additional powers have great potential for abuse and misuse and will need to be closely scrutinised in their application and challenged when necessary to ensure that vitally important civic and cultural freedoms are not lost with all the adverse implications for a free and democratic society.

This post was written by
Singer-Songwriter/Professional Street Performer/Campaigner/Wandering Minstrel

52 Comments on "Busking and Public Space Protection Orders"

  • Linda Simpson says

    If I didn’t busk I would have to give up trying to make my living through music and claim Jobseeker’s allowance. I suspect that there are many more musicians in the same boat… has anyone considered this aspect?
    Open mic nights can be fun but they are providing free entertainment and cutting down the number of places paying for live music.
    It is becoming increasingly difficult to make a living playing venues and busking is one of the ways of making it possible to stay ‘in the business’.
    I am so glad that you are there shouting for us.
    L :)

    • A ‘buoyant Tory Party Conference, now drawing to a close in Birmingham, is being lauded by Media Pundits as a great success compared to the Labour/Ed Milliband ‘damp squid’ of a performance in Manchester.

      Its also not even a week away from Brums Busking Bobbys PC Ian Northcotts Pride of Birmingham Award, for his ‘Chocs and Socs’ Charity for the Homeless and already there are reports that some one is dropping off Mattresses on the Streets. Yes, its the Tory answer to the Welfare State!.

      • Towards the latter part of Thatchers1980’s some Tory’s i.e. the Tory Press began to talk about ‘the kind face of Capitalism’. PC Ian Norcott ( Chocs n’ Socs ) I suppose, is ‘neo-liberalism’ with a conscience!.

        California home of Silicon Valley & cited ‘Model’ of ‘Anglo-Saxon Style’ european political economy ( See Blair/Brown years ) is where the ‘poet’, back on my reading list, comes from.

        Charles Bukowski writer of much ‘taboo’ male fantasy i.e. uninhibited Bachelordom, slobbishness, anti-social, utterly free, does his job brilliantly; reminding us ( albeit literary ) of the ‘alternative’ picture that exists out there, that perspective that is the human tragedy.

        Hats off to Bukowski, in this instance his ( the poets ) ‘imagery’ ( & words ) succeed, in a true West Coast ‘libertine’ style of course! ;

        ” We are like roses that have never bothered to bloom when we should have bloomed and it is as if the sun has become disgusted with waiting ”
        ( Charles Bukowski – Poet )

        • I made a ‘choice’ a while ago to abandon ‘acoustic’ steel string guitar for the ‘nylon’ string, many reasons , tho’ I guess the ‘key’ one being the ‘romantic’ gypsy in me!.

          Nevertheless I still retain a kind of ‘nostaligic’ love for guitarists like Pierre Bensusan & of course the ‘creative’ father of ‘virtuoso’ acoustic guitar Michael Hedges found on the now legendary ‘Windham Hill Label’.

          Hedges is a kind of ‘true’ genius ( a rare ‘natural’ ) but i put alot of his success down to him studying musical ‘composition’ as an undergraduate student. He has his ‘disciple’s of course, many attempting to follow in his footsteps ( perhaps ‘branch’ out a little ) Jon Gomm springs to mind ( not bad! ). But urggh! the rest?

          Somebody recently suggested I take a look at a ‘video’ posted on Birmingham Buskers ‘ Esther’s ‘ facebook page ( ‘I’m’ familiar with her not from Brum but from the streets of Stratford upon Avon ). I did & on there was a ‘guy’ describing himself as ‘ a contemporary classical guitarist ‘, Matt somebody or other, ‘tapping’, slapping & backing her ( one of her Pop Covers! ) on a ‘classical’ guitar & to an apparent on-line viewing audience of more than a few thousand.

          I wonder if ‘they’ found it as ‘amusing’ as ‘me’, I don’t say this totally grudgingly, I guess you’ve got to admire him in his attempt i.e. for attempting to create an ‘art-form’ out of ‘ornament’!.

  • In all the time I have busked in Birmingham I have been made to feel so welcome by the public. I have been overwhelmed by the love and thanks I have received. I know that the vast majority of people want buskers there. The only hostility I have ever experienced is from the odd street warden. I except that there has to be consideration to local people.
    In the years I have lived in Birmingham I have watched the numbers dwindle . I remember as a child how it was such a vibrant community. I accept that there are issues but My fear is instead of trying to reach solutions the council will find it easier and more cost effective to label us criminals and call us anti – social. Sweet irony. I do it to be social.

    • ” I predict a riot ”
      ( The Kaiser Chiefs )

      • ” Like raisins in the sun ”
        ( Lorraine Hansberry )

        • ” The oppressed will always believe the worst about themselves ”
          ( Franz Fanon )

          • Oh how ‘ego’ blinds one from reality. Tony Scott says above; ”The only hostility I have experienced is from the odd Street Warden ” .

            Yes Tony, I can confirm, having seen you in Stratford upon Avon, confronted by Town Hosts eg The Manager ( a woman ) & after things getting heated Police. However this was not the result of unpremeditated hostility, it was following tel calls made by Shopkeepers complaining of ‘loud’ volume noise problems on what is a ‘narrow’ small ‘tourist’ town street.

            I’m glad you’ve made this statement about ‘the source’ of your ‘hostilities’ though Tony, because at least it does expose your online accusation of me ” bullying buskers in Stratford upon Avon ” as a spiteful, nasty, malicious little lie.

            The Stratford upon Avon incident did happen after you in contradiction of the ‘Buskers Code’ lied to me ( ‘mis-directing’ ) ie. falsely stating that you’d been given permission to play longer than the busking schemes ‘rotating’ 2 hours. By doing so you selfishly denied me the spot!, in turn undermining the ‘civility’ of the code.

            No doubt your ‘bullying’ accusations acted as petty revenge for your own humiliation, your public spiting of ‘me’ meant to ‘debase’ me!. The Eurpean Human Rights Commission lists ; shouting, threats, intimidation, setting you up to fail in your job, keeping you out of things, malicousl lies & rumours, altering targets, withholding information etc as all forms of bullying, harrassment, discrimination.

            So on these grounds it seems ‘you’ were bullying me. I’d returned to the area ( having gone away ) & stood behind you as you publicly shouted how ”everyone hates me in Birmingham”, how ” I’d made the telephone call ”, how ” I was allowed to do anything I want ”, how ” you’d see me in Bham ” etc.

            Hostility from the odd Warden ? I know you’ve had ‘valid’ noise nuisance complaints made from all quarters in Bham. That day your busking partner ‘Esther’ who was initially playing the guitar ( under your observation it seems, you took the guitar from her later ) was ‘really loud!’ ( city high street volumes levels ).

            If I was in another ‘state’, I may have been of the mind to teach you a lesson about ‘bullying’ you’d never forget. On the wider subject of Race though & having read Abraham Lincoln recently I’ve learned that the real difficulty here is a ‘human attitude’ problem. The solution?. Well in the words of President Lincoln;

            ” I would rather be a little nobody, than to be an evil somebody ”.
            ( Abraham Lincoln )

          • * When I Have Fears ( An Ode )

            When I have fears that I may cease to be,
            Before my pen has gleamed my teaming brain,
            Before high-piled books in charactery,
            Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain,
            When I behold on the nights starred face,
            Huge cloudy symbols of high romance,
            And think that I may never live to trace,
            Their shadows with the magic hand of chance,
            And when I feel fair creature of an hour,
            That I shall never look upon thee more,
            Never have relish in the fairy power,
            Of unreflecting love and then on the shore,
            Of the wide world and stand alone and think,
            Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

            ( When I Have Fears by John Keats )

  • The above is a mis-representation regards Birmingham, busking and the use of PSPO’s. The truth is a busking scheme has long existed in the city with the opportunity of pre-booked spots for performers. Its also a fact that there are a long standing set of ‘off-piste’ spots used by performers such as myself and without any interference whatsover from authorities including the Police.

    Its a further truism that a ‘liberal’ experiment if you will has been going on in the city for a while now ( approaching 2 years ) meaning that any busker has had practically ‘free’ access to performing wherever they like in the city centre – again with the full endorsement of the Police. ( * I see no mention of this little social fact in your blog Jonny, a fact it seems totally missed by you, as it seems consistently, is the point I make below! )

    Rather predictably though with such extensive freedoms has come abuse by the ‘few’ ( and it is a relative few! ) more irresponsible Buskers. Incidents such as noise nuisance, excessive volumes, ego competition etc have arisen and many blame lax public order control as the problem. Indeed as I reflect more and more on the issue I realise that the creation of ‘official’ busking spots has been a Godsend in terms of reducing conflict, noise interference, confusion and potential mayhem particularly in places like Stratford upon Avon.

    I’ve spoken to city centre officials and been reassured that it is individuals identified as responsible for persistant noise/excess volume problems that have been targeted by such letters. I point out here that its not just Shopkeepers, Offices and Residents who can be victimised by such ‘negative’ busking practices other perfoming musicians can be rendered ‘victims’ too.

    One recent Sunday on turning up on a spot I found myself deliberately, spitefuly attemptedly drowned out by another Buskers. This has happened several times and always involving the same 2 or 3 culprits. Ironically though in this instance as the ‘amp’ volume is cranked up as I turn up, laughably its not me who ends up as affected as the perpertrator thinks but rather the shops, residents etc in the vicinity even closer to the noise source
    who end up having their peace ‘seriously’ disturbed. It is also of course they who make the complaints, and they who are listened to by authorities, and on whose behalf such letters ( above ) , environmental health warnings and warnings of ‘new’ public order powers are issued.

    You know something Jonny, its time to wake up and face up to reality, this is not some simple political conspiracy theory being acted out here, the fact is many common sense, practical minded people are getting rather sick and tired of the rather petty paranoid excuses concerning the issue of busking noise nuisance. Your rather juvenile denial, playing down of the problem of busking noise nuisance as some kind of subjective issue and your tendency to distort and twist what is really a practical city’town management response to the problem of excessive volumes in certain parts of the city centre eg. from the erratic doodlings by a performer on a loud Trumpet to the ‘end of the world’ rants by rather fanatical Street Preachers through amplified loud halers.

    No don’t blame Birmingham authorities for issuing warnings to Buskers identified as using excess volume in their performances.
    No its time for individual Buskers ( they know who they are ) to take responsiblity for their own performances, noise and all. And as the saying goings if they don’t, make their own ‘conscientious’ plans and take their own ‘moral’ actions on this problem then others will. In other words, ‘ If you don’t lead youself others will! ‘
    and that includes not just Birmingham authorities but Liverpool, London, York and Norwich and other UK towns and cities who from October have ‘new’ public order powers available to them all, PSPO’s included.

    And yes Jonny, ‘objective’ noise nuisance, volume excess does exist as a reality, as every angry Parent will tell you ( and every human ego knows too well when brought to account ) after they’ve stormed into their teenager son/daughters bedroom shouting at them to turn the noisy rock music down they’ve selfishly been playing for the last half hour and causing a disturbance with all over the house.

    • Jez Broun says

      Spot on – a good voice of reason. Busking is about music and entertainment. It is becoming increasingly a political platform for rebels without a true cause. Common sense as you say. Some pedal on greed and fear . There is no conspiracy. These laws have good intentions for the well being of everyone. Some buskers think they are a law to themselves and have no idea of the true meaning of freedom

      • Jonny Walker is not a ‘rebel’ and neither are the members of his busking community ie. those affiliates to Streetslive.org, in any true sense of the word ‘romantic’ rebels.

        Many complain that the city centre of Birmingham is rapidly being taken over by Romanian Accordian Players whilst I do recognise the recent appearance of Roma in the city ( for me a mixed community of both ‘good’ and bad ) far more significant has been the recent dramatic rise in a street population of guys and girls with acoustic guitars, streetcube amps and powered microphones singing all brands of ‘acoustic’ pop, Oasis, & John Denver songs included.

        Now thats the Jonny Walker effect for you, though of course one must recognise the possibility that this relatively ‘new’ cultural phenomenom could largely be the result of something else i.e. the X-Factor ‘factor’ ( this plus the ‘dumbed’ down, narcissistic celebrity, get something for nothing, anti-art, anti-intellectual culture that predominates in the mainstream today ).

        I look at this ‘collective herd’ of so-called Street Musicians you find today in places like Birmingham and I see neither future cultural ‘revolutionaries’ nor ‘Stars’. No, what I see is a bunch of people who have been playing ‘Copycat’ all their life. As for Streetslive.org membership, to me its merely an extended version of the game, a popular ‘street’ style show, called ‘ Follow the Follower ‘.

        • * Nb

          More importantly ( and despairingly ) these people ( this ‘new’ kind of Busker ) I see busy establishing themselves in the city centre of Birmingham not only come across as cynical and ‘nihlistic’, but decidedly ‘anti-growth’ ( ‘anti’ any kind of ‘real’ human growth that is ).

          Birmingham is rapidly becoming a ‘decultured’ zone, beginning to take on the cultural mantle of the land ( ‘the streets’ ) where time stood still. A street-culture of mediocrity and stagnation. Corrupted by Mass Culture, or as George Orwell put it swallowed up by the Whale.

          • Behind this rhetoric I see a double standard emerge. Music that you like or approve of qualifies as culture. So your amplifier, classical guitar, and choice of repertoire is ‘good’ but others who play and sing and use an amplifier/guitar and even play John Denver songs are ‘bad’.

            This dichotomising and divisive rhetoric is a stain on the busking community.

            Most buskers are trying to make a living doing what they enjoy. Some are better than others. As long as they behave reasonably I see no reason to pick and choose between them.

            An elitist contempt of the Everyman shines through your rhetoric, but busking exists for the Everyman and the streets are public spaces where people have a right to express themselves whether or not they please the self appointed cultural critics and gatekeepers.

          • ‘ Rhetoric’ ‘ Double Standards’ ??? Oh dear Jonny I sense the usual dogmatic, ‘rigid’ dare I say it rather paranoid thinking emerging here.

            No, I urge you not to worry, I personally do not dect any signs of anyone going to ( indeed wanting to ) ‘force’ you and your like off the streets, in Birmingham ( nor any other cities like it elswhere ), not the ‘High Street’ at least anyways!.

        • I’m not sure what you mean by the words ‘you and your kind’.

          For the benefit of people reading these comments perhaps you’d like to expand upon your meaning which seems to have the characteristics of what sociologists would call ‘othering’ language.

          It seems that you spend an awful amount of time denigrating other performers and their attempts to organise themselves politically.

          I’m also confused by your conflation of John Denver with Oasis and either of them with X Factor culture.

          One might ask what has John Denver ever done to you?

          Or is your particular bug bear with folk/pop vocalists self
          Accompanying on the guitar?

          Whichever it may be I dedict territorial snobbiness masquerading as cultural criticism.

          • Well theres been long-standing ‘academic’ concern about Mass Culture and its ‘negative’ effects. The work of ‘ the Frankfurt School’ for one comes to mind.

            Secondly, these days theres a ‘real’ critque at all levels of society concerning media & Celebrity , narcisissm and the preponderance of creative ‘junk’ culture not just in our streets but across the mainstream. See a brief discussion of this ‘critical’ phenomenon in John Gardners classic ‘The Art of Ficton’.

            Thirdly, and I think very important to mention here, I think there are people out there, on our streets today, who are dragging Oasis and John Denver songs throught the mud. I get feedback on this kind of thing all the time not from ‘intellectuals’ but ordinary members of the public.

          • Jonny this is not about simple ‘taste’ and every one and anyone having ‘straight’ access to public space. Its about ‘reasoned’ critical aesthetic judjement, its about ‘moral’ responsibility and above all its about ‘honest’y including or artisic integrity and ‘authenticity’ .

            These are all very much of concern to ‘interested’ individuals, public and ‘intellectuals’ alike even when it comes to Busking and Street-performing. As is the ethical concept of ‘propriety’, especially so at cultural policy level.

          • Its also about the Public wanting to see expressed through Street Performers the demonstration of ‘real’ courage and the ‘active’ desire and will to grow as artists, as human-beings. People find this kind of thing extremely uplifting, encouraging and ‘genuinely’ entertaining, no one wants to see the streets of eg. Birmingham, become a ‘stagnant’ pond.

  • The Keep Streets Live Campaign recognises that some performers (as you rightly say, the minority), cause issues with noise and nuisance. In the Liverpool Guidance enforcement action under the Environmental Health Act 1990 against persistent noise nuisance is one of the steps available to the local authority. That enforcement action should be a last resort and only after consultation with the busking community is only right and fair.

    Spontaneity is very important in the busking tradition. Access to public space on a democratic and open basis is equally important and what KSL seeks to protect. I am concerned at the way in which you are quick to scapegoat other performers for issues that arise on the streets, and also at the complacency with which you view the new public order legislation as it relates to busking. It is not clear to me whether or not you support the new public order legislation, but if you do you are in the company of authoritarian elements in the Home Office and Local Government. The former director of Public Prosecutions Lord McDonald has decried the legislation as an unwarranted state intrusion into the everyday freedoms of people, not just buskers but all who use public space.

    Birmingham’s policy with designated pitches, auditions and time limits is unworkably strict on paper which is why it has been largely ignored (including by you with your regular ‘off piste’ busks). Now the council intend to enforce it by using the new public order powers, apparently with your support under the naive assumption that you won’t be personally affected. Surely it would be far batter for the council to introduce a policy that works on paper and in practise and that has been agreed upon by consent?

    I notice that you chose to absent yourself from a recent meeting convened in Birmingham to discuss issues around street performing. That absence speaks volumes.

  • Firsly Jonny who is the Streets Live Campaign? who is the ASAP?, Is the simple truth its really just you and maybe your wife ( or even your father the Reverend John H Walker and perhaps other members of your family – perhaps your brother Michael Walker ). I’ve been regularly Street Performing in the Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon areas of the country, personally know most of the busking community and yet know of no one who is a member of either of these 2 organisations ( you have set up ).

    That said I’m aware of a couple of buskers relatively ‘new’ to the scheme in Birmingham, both sharing your acoustic pop/folk style of performance, who may have formed associations with your good self. One of them of course, who your best busking buddy and fellow activist Chester Bingley at Buskers Unregulated described as his ‘friend’ in Birmingham. And does this guy count? Well not necessarily for me because he is someone I have personally criticised for malicously misrepresenting me on the internet for supposedly bullying buskers in Stratford upon Avon.

    So Jonny I firstly point out if there is anybody ‘ attemptedly being made a scapegoat in this context then its me. The truth, from my perspective, is that both you and Chester Bingley by befriending such a perpertrator, ignoring my protestations about his blatant spiteful ‘social media’ bullying of myself, and using him to garner information on issues concerning Birmingham, can justifiably have your ‘own’ personal judgements called in to question. Furthermore theres strong reason to believe that you’re not innocent parties in this and from a ‘passive’ aggressive standpoint that you two are also in on the ‘game’ ie. the ‘social’ scapegoating of me!

    Now Jonny you state above that Keep The Streets Alive recognise some performers cause noise nuisance ……etc . I state yes you probably do however the morally contradicory reality is you don’t seem to want to do anything ‘actively’ about it, when the issue arises. You are certainly quick to criticise, whimper and complain when authorites do take action and thats even when its in the form of a set of warnings, and the threat of using ‘formal’ powers. One thing for a so called ‘ Peace Maker ‘ Jonny you show no empathy whatsover for its victims eg shops, offices, residents or indeed other performers like me.

    The hard reality is, Birminghams long established busking scheme of ‘pre-bookable’ pitches etc has largely been a success. It grew out the kind of chaos that has been plagueing Liverpool ( some claim still is! ) and prompted the Council to take action there ( * A quick aside – ‘further’ truth is you were brought kicking and screaming to the debating table in Liverpool Jonny on the defensive and seemingly oblivious to any concern about busking and noise nuisance etc. ). Now places do differ and Birmingham had a particular problem with ‘aggressive’ begging and many complaints about ‘standards’ of performance and this is the context out of which the current scheme emerged. Again from my experience and others it has worked very well and to the benefit of Buskers. I for one am very ‘grateful’ for its establishment.

    Jonny you mislead again because drawing from my extensive ‘ on the ground ‘ experience the vast majority of buskers have adopted the scheme in good faith. Liverpool is not a pioneering city on this issue, the Birmingham Scheme was developed in consultation with local performers, and generally agreed to. The advantage of ‘ Pre-booking’ ( a characterisitic of the code here ) is that it guarantees a ‘security’ of spot on turning up to play, ‘ the first come first serve method’ which works in Stratford upon Avon being more like a busking game of russian roulette in Birmingham. This is an urban city, its rougher, its edgier , with contests over playing space leading to argument and conflict in some cases as people rush first thing in the morning to grab spaces. The Birmingham Scheme works particularly well for the bigger ‘High Street’ spaces where bigger, louder, acts who may have carted all their instruments and equipment to the area that morning turn up to find its been already taken by a ‘blagger’ on guitar.

    Contrary to what you’d have us believe ( a busker from Leeds who plays in York, Liverpool, Norwich, London etc ) the Birmingham scheme has worked remarkably well, most performers joining in enthusiastically. To my knowledge only 2 buskers out of a community of many more have consistently refused to go along with the scheme. One of them is your ‘contact’ down here Jonny ( well I guess he is ) ie. Chester Bingleys ‘friend’ from Birmingham, the guy claiming ( without a jot of evidence, *with evidence to the contrary ) that I’ve been bullying buskers in Stratford upon Avon.

    Of course it it does’nt surprise me ( it may surprise you! ) that a guy like this has been identified as one of the main sources of complaint for busking ‘noise’ nuisance in the city centre ( and I further guess that he is the source from which you’ve garnered much of your informantion ). The truth is he’s had numerous complaints which the city civil authorites have a public duty to act upon. Not only does he ignore the busking code, he wilfully plays in spots designated ‘sensitive’.

    Now I’ve argued this point elsewhere and you’ve ( rather absurdly for me ) defended this guy ( rather spuriously ) on he grounds that noise nuisance is subjective and are judgements of taste etc. Well I clarify here Jonny that the issue is not one of merely taste ( tho’ taste and ‘fit’ are a legitemate debatable issue ) but one about excessive noise volume levels and how it harms the reasonable peace of others in the vicinity trying to go about their daily business ( not only shops, offices etc but also other musicians like myself ).

    Now you ask for evidence of such wrong doings by this particular Busker ( and I stress he is ‘not’ a scapegoat he is’culpable’ ) andyou cast doubts on such ‘negative’ busking actually happening. Well again I first respond by stating that I’m not sure you fully understand what ‘rational’ reasonable evidence is given that as an avowed Christian Evangelist from a family with ‘evangelical’ traditions you’re the kind of person with tendencies to believe in the existence of Gods, Supernatural Beings without a jot reasonable proof.

    In spitge of this fact alone enought for most reasonable people to doubt your ‘integrity’ on this issue, there is evidence, not just experiential and in the form of direct personal testimony eg the many complaints of shops, offices, residents and others but in the persons very own video of an incident occuring in Birminghams Xmans German Market last year:

    eg. Check Video ‘Police Confront Xmas Busker In Birmingham German Market ‘ on Google and you see how your ‘friend’ basically implicates himself by agreeing to ‘ turn it down ‘ ( his volume levels! ) after being confronted by officials and police. This agreement, followed complaints from Market Stall Holders who claimed their sales transactions were being drowned out by execessive noise volumes form your ‘friend’. I’ve also been told that offices positioned directly above ( incl: the Belgian Trade Commission ) was also being affected by noise excess from below. Compare this with my own and others experience of playing on the German Market, I for one have never recieved a complaint! and yes I as a ‘busker’ have been attemptedly purposely drowned out by this guy myself. The truth is!, The evidence? Simply watch the video and you’ll see that the selfish ‘fool’ basically implicates himself!.

    You see Jonny one point you clearly seem to miss, an important question completely when talking about streetperforming, freedom and public order is that there is no freedom in a state of affairs where other performers can be wilfully ‘drowned’ out by other players, where others are ‘free’ to set up right next to you perhaps with louder instruments or bigger sound set-ups and so dominate the public space.

    No the Birmingham scheme I vouchsafe with its designated spots etc far from being restrictive actually succeeds in ‘freeing’ up many of the more creative, progressive and genuinely ‘artistic’ entertaining performers. I generally support the Birmingham Scheme because such an approache helps provide a clear framework of spaces for performance that can then have some possibility of being properly nurtured and protected form the unjust interference of others.

    Now this may not work in all places but from my experience of Birimingham it certainly does work here and very well. In fact a few years ago when this was up and functioning at its best, despite the fact of a few ‘overofficious’ wardens, I found performing in the city most ‘ liberating’ particularly as a ‘growing’ Artist.

    As the literary feminist Virginia Woolf rather elegantly illustrates in her classical essay ‘ A Room Of Ones Own ‘ every prospective Artist if they are to ‘authentically grow must have access to some carefully thought out space. And The truth is this space is always ‘negotiated’, random access to space rather than enabling ‘sponteneity’ often ironically ( & quite grotesqely so ) often leads to a stifling and choking of ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ artistic spontaneous expression ( very seriously so when that entails a deliberate and malicious interference by spiteful others ).

    So totally unregulated freedom to public space may on the surface have its appeals and may to some appear to outside observers ( and some Buskers ) like human freedom. However
    experience playing on the Streets has taught me that things are a little bit more complicated like that. Ironically ‘designated’ spots ( if maintained and protected ) can enable in pratice a truer more honest kind of ‘artistic’ freedom ( the kind of freedom as a Street Performer I want and so desire ). In this context I refute your criticisms of Birmingham being too restrictive , complete nonsense Jonny.

    And as for Liverpool today, well a long-time perormer from Chester who appeared in Stratford upon Avon over the Summer told me that since you’ve got involved Jonny, the situation in Liverpool has desended into chaos, its got worse ( literally din and pandemonium in the city centre ). He said that he approached a guy in the morning for access to spot only to be told to ‘ F-off!’ when he turned up in the afternoon. Jonny if this for you represents busking freedom, well then I tell you here and now I don’t want it. As for social harmony? The reality – its a joke!.

    Let me put you right on this one. All the Birmingham authorities have done recently eg Birmingham Retail ( responsible for city-centre management ), the Council Dept for environment etc have is issue letters to individual buskers who have been complained about regards excess volume levels, simply warning them about possible action to contest their behaviour and ‘new’ public order powers that may enable them to do so. And you call this ‘restrictive’ practices, calm down Jonny or you’ll give yourself a hernia. Yes you’re acting like a cantakerous ole man as far as this action is concern.

    As long as the ‘right’ people have been targeted I see no problem here whatsoever. What we have is responsible and good town management being carried out, and all in the public interest to boot. The Counciletc have a duty to act on complaints ( which they stated have been numerous! ). Also so far I see no evidence of scapegoating. In fact you’re being very naughty here Jonny, very naughty indeed because the only ‘ indication’ of scapegoating that has gone on recently with regards Busking in Birmingham has been that directed towards myself and by ‘ perpertrators ‘ you call friends ( or your activist colleague Chester Bingley does )

    A final curisosity that has plagued me Jonny is that if you agree that some individuals are guilty of causing noise nuisance why when authorities such as Birmingham actually take some action on such matters ( with simply letters of warning here! ) are you so up in arms moaning and crying about ‘restrictive’ practices etc ?. You contradict yourself here Jonny, very much so, it has’nt gone unnoticed.

    The truth is I suspect, is that deep down, you are worried that one day in fact, it will be ‘you’ who will be brought to account as an excessive noise volume culprit. I’m afraid that all the evidence suggests that on this issue you’re acting more out of guilty anxious self interest than out of any objective ‘moral’ concerns with regards busking freedoms etc.

    In fact I’ve been carefully scrutinising some of your You Tube ‘ Street ‘ Videos and upon analysis and by constructing and drawing upon some ‘ practical’ experience criterion I have to say that if you played at the same volume levels as you do on eg Leeds High Street ( as an Acoustic Pop Performer ) in the more naturally more ‘tranquil’ cafe areas of Birmingham you indeed would be subject to complaints to. Common sense dictates I think that this is a major part of the problem concerning perormers such as yourself and yours and Chester Bingleys ‘friend’ from Birmingham.

    Whether its due to ignorance and naievity, blind arrogance and ego or just plain spiteful wilfulness I’ve noticed many a time ‘ Singing ‘ acts who fail to adjust themselves when playing in ‘ quieter ‘ parts of a town/city and so create problems i.e. unnecessary peace disturbances. Of course this pertains to some instrumental acts too eg the erratic doodling yet ‘loud’ Trumpeter I mention elsewhere ( in fact the kind of Street Musician who your busking ‘friend’ from Birmingham on the internet fairly recently rather hypocritically referred to as ‘ a beggar with a Trumpet ‘ ).
    You want peace? real peace involving sympathy and consideration for others? then simply adjust your volume levels accordingly. No excuses, its quite possible to get a beautiful, gently tone out of the Trumpet if you were to spend a little time in conscientously developing the technique.

    A further problem though that I’ve got with you Jonny personally is that you as an individual are clearly driven by Christian ‘evangelising’ motives, as apart from simply art and entertainment. As Christopher Hitchens points out in his best selling book God Is Not Great, the danger is expressed in the quite telling phrase that ‘ Relgion Poisons Everything ‘ and I’m beginning to think that your evangelising tendendicies, your zelousness ( over zealousness! ) is what is clouding your judgement on issues such as what amounts to noise nuisance which for the likes of me is simply reasonably clear excess of ‘ noise volume ‘ but for you appears to remain clouded by some quibbling nonsense about taste and subjectivity.

    You see for me Street Performers in general are not the real social problem these days. In fact the great success of some ‘established’ Busking Schemes is that they have provided excellent ‘experimental’ environments for the testing out of and formulation of good and workable cultural policy with regards busking. The bigger problems today are to do about other problems that may beset our town/city centres such as Charity Sales ( or Chugging ), fringe crime, begging and drinking and of course Street Preaching etc. The agenda ought to start focusing how these kinds of issue are to be fairly and effectively managed in the public sphere. All these areas have been source of many problems with regards the Public and interference for the likes of me as a working Street Musican.

    What worries me about you Jonny with your clear Christian Agenda informing your busking is that you bring with it a certain attitude akin to that you witness in some Street Preachers presently causing problems in places like Birmingham. They like you appear oblivious to complaints of noise noisance, like you they tend to get ‘over’ defensive ( paranoidly so ) citing religious freedoms etc when called to account for preaching ‘end of the world’ rants through amped up loud halers.

    People like them ( like you ) time and time again claim to be arbiters of peace, preaching the word of Christ yet expect people to tolerate the loud volumes, the rants and tend to quibble rather irritatingly about subjectivity and the like when people reasonably complain. I’m not even convinced of your videos/pics of you playing in Oldham recently ( a ‘busker’ friendly town, with cafe spots etc ) again it smacks of crude ‘religious’ like propaganda where really you don’t compare like with like.

    No, I along with others ( the ‘true’ silent majority I suspect these days ) are getting sick and tired of the game ie. provoke other people with rants, noise, ( high volume levels etc ) and then complain ‘victim’ when people confront and complain, or even claiming others ‘ assault ‘ you when you don’t stop and claim they have infringed your rights and attacked you. Jonny when I hear you shout ‘ restrictive ‘ practices when civil authorities call persistant noise nuisances in the city-centre to account, I no longer hear you, I don’t believe you, all I see is the simple acting out of a game. For me this does’nt represent calls for freedom or progress its regressive, its negative.

    Man of peace, Bringer of social harmony ( ha! ha! ha! ) , yes you and your kind keep harping on about peace but I don’t think you’re the kind of people tto bring it about. In fact it gets even more sinister than that for me. I often stand and observe some of the antics of certain Street Preachers in Birmingham city centre ranting on about ‘ the earths end ‘ and all this too with apparant ‘glee!’ . What grotesque irony, a bunch of regressive ‘ irrationalists’ clearly entertained by the fact that they can walk around shouting such nonsense while they themselves interfere with and to some extent attemt to ruin a shoppers day.

    Christopher Hitchens in his book ‘God Is Not Great – How Religion Poisons Everything ‘ proves very insighful understandin in this context. He argues convincingly how the writings ( speakings ) of the religous represents ‘ the wish for obliteration ‘ – for a death in the day of the Apocalypse. And I’ve long thought this myself that many of those so called ‘ peacemakers ‘ amongst us indeed may not want death themselves but at least they can arrogantly stand back and gloat that if the end is coming for mankind at least they will be saved.

    Jonny what with your rather patronising, dismissive attitutude towards the issue of busking noise nuisance, your criticism of authorities like Birminghams and their ‘rightful’ civil ‘ management of the issue and your ‘ passive ‘ aggression towards the likes of me a ‘fellow’ working Street Peformer merely demonstrates as far as I am concerned that along with the so called Street Preachers far from being force of peace and good out in our publice spaces you are in fact a potential ‘ wreckers’. You, Street Preachers and the like are not arbiters of social harmony, no, far from it, to me you represent in your current form, in some key ways and in present reality a destructive tendency on our streets.

    Its in this context that I fully support the Birmingham Busking Scheme and hope that ‘ designated ‘ spots and pre-booking codes remain. I also back the ‘ just ‘ civic management of noise nuisance. In principle in and from practical experience such schemes protect and enhance artistic freedom rather than restrict it. All this of course pertains to musical type acts, as far as Statues and other acts go, ‘good’ spaces are readily available for them too.
    ( * Note spaces have already been carved out for this type of performance, other performers enter into them at their own peril ie. they might not make as much money – a little bird told me that
    one such Birmingham Busker was complaining about this little financial fact only he other week. Well too bad, either get better at what you do or get in line with the code ).

    Byetheway as far as attending ‘ The Busking Bobbies ‘ pre-arranged meeting with city officials etc I’ve explained why I did’nt attend elsewhere ( you use the term ‘boycott’ I don’t ! ). One simple reason is I don’t know him and I was’nt invited. He’s also linked to your Birmingham ‘ friend ‘ ( the one slandering me as a bully ) who I understand lent him his acoustic guitar to do a You Tube promo video of him singing Oasis Wonderwall the other Summer. The truth is he’s a Police Officer first, a charity worker 2nd and somebody who has promoted himself on the ticket of being Buskers ( ever since ‘ the Wonderwall ‘ performance ) .I for one have never seen him actually busking or know him as a member of any busking community in Birmingham or elsewhere for that matter.

    ( * Note – I note your Birmimgham ‘friend’ has been connected with him, The Busking Bobby ever since too. No coincidence for me since it was just after he was confronted and stopped playing by Town Hosts and Police for infringeing the busking code in Stratford upon Avon that he seems to have formed links with members of Birmimghams police. Note he does’nt name these parties as being bullies, Stratford upon Avon Police etc. No just me!)

    Finally, it would’nt surprise me though if you Jonny have got a current working relationship with Busking Bobby yourself. Your penchant for working with the police is clearly illustrated by the newspaper article featuring yourself and your wife giving out cups of tea to Met Riot Police the other year, you know following the shooting of black male Mark Diggins in London a few years back *See Ref Google ‘ 10 heroes of the London Riots ‘ ( Phillipa Morgan Walker and Jonny Walker ).

    • *Correction ( to above )
      Apologes ‘Mark Duggan ‘

    • Jez Broun says

      It concerns me that jonny walker is exploiting the already existing chaos with Bath buskers with his activist ideology. He has little respect for the painstaking efforts I took as a buskers rep in talking with Bath officials to create a self regulating system which a few buskers have totslly abused. He has allowed comments accusing me of having a criminal record on this website. Well I will be sharing a panel with jonny walker at a public consultation in bsth where members of the police force will be present and I will set the record straight publicly. I have never seen do much hypocrisy and double talk as amongst buskers who control the streets. Some are worse than the duper rich. It is sad when some of the worst attitudes are displayed by really good musicians. I think egos distort reality.

  • Jonny says

    Keep Streets Live exists to protect access to public space for informal, spontaneous and impromptu offerings of art and music. If you prefer managed schemes with designated pitches and busking licenses then you are clearly not aligned with the values of this organisation.

    As busking activists between us we have decades of combined experience of playing in hundreds of towns across Europe. As a busker of just over three years experience who seems to perform predominately in only two places (Birmingham and Stratford), I’m not certain that you are best placed to comment on the busking tradition in general which has always relied on open access to public space for the way faring minstrel. Your stance makes sense from the perspective of someone who only busks in a few places and is happy to work within catch-all restrictive policies.

    I don’t think a public forum is the best place to enter into a debate about my religious beliefs or your atheism. However it is quite unfair for you to base wholesale assumptions about me based on your mis-perceptions of my values and integrity. I also think it is quite inappropriate of you to ‘name and shame’ other buskers on a public forum. Keep Streets Live is a forum to protect and support buskers, not to denigrate them.

    Having been given advance scrutiny of the Liverpool policy in draft form I can only assume you have chosen to ignore the fact that it represents a wholesale culture change in Liverpool and the start of buskers and the local authority working together for the common good.

    I see in you someone who prefers to carp and moan from the sidelines, to bad mouth other performers and to take sides against them, to pontificate about busking policies when you are relatively inexperienced and predominately only perform in two cities, a far cry from the 30 plus a year many of us perform in.

    On a personal basis I wish you well Nigel, but if you support the use of blanket social controls such as PSPOs against buskers you are deeply misguided and mistaken in my opinion, and no ally of your fellow buskers either.

    • Jez Broun says

      You are a hypocrite jonny. You allow the most defamatory comments to be made about me to remain on your website despite three requests from me to remove them and you have the arrogance to lecture me on how busking should be in Bsth which has been my home city for 40 years. There is no conspiracy theory, the law will occasionally be dealt out in a heavy handed way as in Canterbury but I can tell you busking is and has been. Incredibly free in Bath and it is the likes of jonny walker stirring up trouble just when the main trouble making mafia of zesty buskers have left is the real threat! Just play your music jonny.

      • ‘Wise words’ from ‘Jez Broun’ I’d say, ‘listen’ and then ‘Picture’ this I’d say ( Ref Google eg. ‘Time – 10 Heroes of the London Riots – Heroes Amongst Us Philipa Morgan Walker And Jonny Walker ‘ ) pacifist, Christian Evangelist & man of peace Jonny Walker and Wife providing succor and ‘good’ comfort to the forces of ‘non-violence’.

  • I am certainly not aligned with the values of you Jonny. No on the contrary and along with Albert Einstein I believe that ‘ A mans ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education ( and social ties ! ). No religious basis is necessary! ‘.

    • Jez Broun says

      Hear hear

      • Yes please ‘listen’ because Jonny Walker is certainly a hypocrite, on the one hand he accuses the likes of ‘me’ and my ‘cultural evaluation’ of whats happening in the city-centre of Birmingham ( i.e. ‘manifest’ narcissistic mass culture ), as ‘elitist’ and then himself goes onto gloat and ‘parade’ elswhere that ‘ Liverpool Leads The Way

        Well, I certainly think Hughie Green and his TV show ‘ Opportunity Knocks ‘ has a lot to answer for. So yeah why not get rid of all TV ‘talent’ Contests, and follow the example of the Jonny Walker Brigade.

        Come on, send out ‘the invites’, get ‘ Industry ‘ gatekeepers to visit important ‘regional’ metropolitan centres like Birmingham, take a look around and get a sense of the the ‘streets”. Do they recognise anyone, seen any of these ‘faces’ before, perhaps a touch of ‘deja vu’ even?, Ok maybe not!. So yeah go on, and take your pick, see they’re ‘all’ winners!.

  • Oh and on the purpose of human life ( as opposed to your father Rev John H Walker, fellow Director of your organisation, and advocate for the streets to become a place of worship ) I side with the Author Philip Pullman who states ” The true end of human life …is not redemption by a non-existent Son of God , but the gaining and transmission of wisdom ”.

  • Finally, Jonny, your above comment, and my ‘personal’ experience of what can only be described as ‘your’ rather rude and selfish manner of abruptly butting in on peoples talk as they are making a point ( i.e. very ‘reasonable’ points but ones that you don’t happen to like! ) as you did to me 3 times at a meeting in Liverpool bears all the hallmarks of despotism.

    As for blanket bans on anything, I don’t support that at all, no way. No that kind of behaviour they’re the characteristic antics of a Religious Despot !.

    • * Conclusion ( ‘ tentative ‘ )

      I like to see a bit of healthy ‘organic’ variety concerning types of busking spot from place to place i.e. some places having ‘pre-bookable’ spot options, some offering ‘first come first serve performance spaces, and others ( if ‘workable’ ) having total free access to any space.

      Of course one current reality is that busking is ‘unregualated’ in the UK at present where broadly speaking you can set up and busk anywhere. However the ‘practical’ local political reality is a consensus has arisen in many places with regards the creation of and adherance to certain busking codes.

      Its a fascinating phenomenon the law and how it relates to social ‘reality’, one thats become a favourite topic of study of mine since I’ve began Street Performing as a job ( neigh vocation! ). You soon learn how in actual fact the forces that maintain civilisation are not simply the general law but a wide array of interesting interlating social mores, conventions and moral pressures all adapted to different circumstances. Its a wonderful the ‘deep’ realisation that the ‘real’ glue that is holding society together, indeed the key to our very survival is simply our shared human values and ‘rationality’.

  • The clear additional important point that emerges out of this context is to do with the question of how not only authorities but Buskers in general respond to what is clearly ‘ abuse ‘ of the the public space.

    For me the moral imperative is for Street Performers not to always be on the critical offensive but to actively support Council ‘action’ taken against the more irresponsible Busker ( as and when they crop up ) who destructively creates ‘noise’ nuisance in a civic area in the form of loud volume levels etc.

    It would be hypocritical for Buskers shut their eyes to fellow performers causing ‘noise’/volume level problems etc ( perhaps even to ‘will’ such activity in the form of passive aggression ) yet to cry foul when the state more ‘dodgily’ collaborates with business interests, using anti-social behaviour law in an unfair, bias against Buskers ( i.e acting so as to clear up what they deem as ‘ unseemly or a mess ‘ in the city/town centre etc – * See article by Josie Appleton ‘ The End of Public Space: One Law To Ban Them All 20 Jan 2014 ).

    I support use of ‘injunctions’ against particular individuals who can be ‘evidentially’ shown to be a nuisance, I call upon other Buskers to back such ‘civic’ actions also. However I am in principle highly critical of the use of Public Space Protection Orders ( ie ‘blanket’ bans ) to solve such eg. noise problems. Why should the ‘majority’ of reasonably behaved Buskers be punished ( eg. find themselves ‘excluded’ ) for the negative ‘ destructive ‘ antics of a few.

    In this context though I do acknowledge that the ‘civic’ authorities relationship with Street Performers and Street Artists is in danger of being rendered a little more murky and a clear threat to public justice given the fact that the ‘new’ anti-social behaviour crime and policing act 2014 has removed existing ‘checks’ on the use of such powers as issuing PSPOs etc. In this case what we are left with ( what we Buskers are faced with ) is authorities who have been granted ‘total’ control over public space – i.e. with no need for public consultation or to prove a case beyond reasonable doubt with regards enforcement – if you value ‘justice’ this is a potential very dangerous situation indeed.

    A useful insight here is that the removal of checks on the use of state power leaves the whole process not only open to abuse by civic authorities but also by ‘some’ Buskers and so called Street Activists. For example not only do we end up with the unjust ‘scapegoating’ of ‘good’ Buskers ( i.e. being ‘excluded’ form public space ) due to commercial bias, we also get the absurd spectacle of political protests arising against proper and reasonable action taken by town authorities against well known busking nuisances.

    Yes the situaton with the ‘new’ anti-social behaviour act means that the legal process can be easily taken advantage of by not only over zealous town/city centre managers but also by those avoiding guilt and the misguided activists with their own policitical agendas and power ambitions who side with them.

    One possible way of stemming the inevitable ‘miscarriages’ of justice that will occur when the ‘new’ antisocial behaviour act comes into play in October is for Buskers themselves to begin taking responsibility i.e. to start ‘seriously’ facing up to and identifying the mess caused by certain more irresponsible buskers ( and their own mess if and when it does crop up ).

    I thinks its incumbent on us all to face up squarely to the problem of noise nuisance, volume levels, standards, taste & fit with regards ourselves ie. Buskers and busking. Lets be open and honest about these kind of issues, get a dialogue going between ourselves ( this is very much happening in some of the places where I perform ) involving discussions concerning not just the shadow side of the state but also the ‘rogues’ amongst us.

    The ‘ liberal ‘ in me tells me that the state ‘ in reality ‘ does have an important role still in policing the civic space and that includes buskers ( and this can benefit us all! ) however the ‘ anarchist ‘ in me calls for more stringent ‘self’ policing. As Buskers we’ve got to take more concerted action along these lines, not merely in the form of ‘guides’ and ‘leaflets’ ( they can come across as so patronizing! yuk! ) but in terms of personal ‘mindfulness’, moral awareness, individual integrity and responsibility ( ‘ collective ‘ responsibility even! ).

  • Oh as I say elswhere ( *See Liverpool Leads The Way ), on the question of communities Jonny, there are communities & communities, ‘artificial’, and ‘imaginary’ communities. Truth is Jonny, ‘your’ community and whats going on in Liverpool is one of many communities out there and the moral ‘reality is, there is no good reason why yours ( your type of community ) should predominate.

  • Jez Broun says

    The busking community is transient. Nobody is trying to ban buskers just anti social individuals. Amplification has got out of hand in many towns, technology allows minitiarisation and many buskers are just not aware of how loud they are. This is the central issue. But they should not be banned outright, so what is the solution.?

    • Jez Broun says

      I meant amps should not be banned outright as they are the lifeblood of creative street entertainment, loop machines etc.

    • Jonny says

      ‘These laws have good intentions for the well-being of everyone’

      The Antisocial Behaviour, crime and policing act 2014 is the most extensive re-writing of the relationship between local authorities, the police and the people they are paid to serve. Given that concerns about their far-ranging powers have been raised by Lord Macdonald, a former director of public prosecutions, amongst many others including senior police, your comment betrays a cavalier disregard for the implications for cultural freedom that these laws represent, a very real threat in Bath where these laws are set to be implemented against all buskers as a social class rather than against individuals causing offence.

      There is already a law against statutory noise nuisance. The environmental protection act 1990 allows local authorities to prosecute people and confiscate musical instruments and serve noise abatement notices against intrusive buskers.

      This is the answer to noise nuisance, not a system of preemptive licenses/permits.

      Cultural freedom needs to be protected against the intrusion of coercive legislation.

    • Heres an important idea Jez, on what I believe we could both agree is a central issue here, ” Do NOT ‘smear’ other buskers so as to further your ‘own’ political ambitions! ”. How about Jonny Walker puts that into his so called ‘ Good Practice Guide ‘ ?.

      • And they say ‘ power corrupts ‘, well you know surprise, surprise, Walker is already beginning to faulter as a self proclaimed champion of busking and has not even reached MU Local Delegate level yet.

        • In this context your blog ”Liverpool Leads The Way” does’nt read like some ‘heroic’ clarion call to the downtrodden masses it really does represent a prime example of not only ‘misleading’ but misguided ‘elitism’!.

          No, this kind of ‘false’ heroics goes down as a damp squid for me. And I state, there is very much still an ’empty’ space to be filled here, a void of ‘platitudes’ that could yet be effectively filled by the ‘enlightened’ Black voice.

          ” The Black Man mistily observed through the self-consciously topical prose of Jack Kerouac…could serve for white youth as the model for freedom in bondage ….”
          ( from The Meaning of Style – Dick Hebdige )

  • Yes, problems are possibly underfoot with regards the possible use of ‘new’ Anti Social Police Bill ‘control’ orders to police Birmingham city-centre ( Buskers included ). The city ‘Environmental’ Health Officer Simon Cooper is certainly pushing for their use ( due to ‘complaints’! ).

    I was warned of this Xmas by city-centre Police, it seems now official ‘touting’ for ‘consultations’ ( with shops, retailors etc! ) have begun. Of course ‘new’ moves by Officialdom regards busking in Birmingham may demand ‘fresh’ thinking ( & activism ) by Street Performers themselves in the city.

    A point I make is that in considering busking issues in Birmingham its important to remember, there are many ways to skin a cat, & the best solutions are town ‘specific’. Please don’t be decieved on this issue the ‘dominant’ busking culture now found in places like Liverpool is a ‘perspective’ i.e. one of many ways of doing things.

    Don’t be fooled because like the codes, & schemes found all around the country, playing in this particular city has its advantages & disadvantages, depending on ‘where you’re coming from’ & what instrument you play etc.

    As I see it, the Liverpool environment most certainly favours ‘circle-acts’ & Pop Acts ( incl; ‘amplified’ SingerSongwriters/’Covers’ Singers ) over the ‘romantic’ guitarist & lone Gypsy, particularly on the High Street where even if you got there first, others would soon arrive, & once set-up, drown you out!.

    From a ‘personal’ perspective ( a bohemian ‘street’ gypsy, future Artists point of view ) this is a situation ( & prospective ‘conflict’ ) I’d like to see avoided.

    • The tragedy in cities like Birmingham where you can currently avoid such difficulties by ‘booking’ a spot on the High Street, is that the problem has now been exasperated by ‘Street Preachers’.

      These kind of ‘Christian’ folk are people who think nothing of turning up & standing right next to you & ‘sermonising’ with a loud haler ( or PA system in the case of Moslem Preacher Activists ).

      • Forget your PSPO’s, no manner of ‘artificial’ public space control in the city-centre will solve this particular problem.

        At the end of the day, it will be good old-fashioned human communication ( & ‘negotiation’ ) involving ‘all’ parties, & including a lot of ‘religous’ goodwill ( they’re tolerated well enough! ), that will be the truly successful ( ‘peaceful’ ) harbinger of Culture, Politics & The Public Space.

        • Furthermore its a gross ‘civil’ wrong that a so called ‘authority’ like Simon Cooper should be allowed the rather ‘arbitary’ Power ( feedback from a few shops, offices ), to draw a ‘circle’ (ring) in a publc space & then be able to say any ‘action’ ( eg. singing a song ) that involves crossing that line ( steps over ‘my’ constructed boundary ) ‘I’ ( we ) can call ‘anti-social’ behaviour.

          • What we end up with is not civil justice but the public abuse of a whole creative ‘section’ of the city-centre ‘working’ community.

          • I’m patiently awaiting the emergence of an authentic pan-national ‘ Political ‘ Artist who not afraid to express the truth doe’sn run away from complex ‘reality’ nor like the average ‘pop’ artiste seek to ‘smooth’ it over!.

          • MCJC

          • Nb

            Though do not overlook ‘new’ figures in parliament like Tory MP Heidi Allen who bravely attacked George Osbornes plans in her ‘maiden’ speech eg. ” tax credits are not a spreadsheet excercise these are ‘real’ people ”. She still believes in the general ‘tenet’ that work should pay but argues that ‘changes’ are to fast & therefore un-aligned with introduction of the ‘living wage’ ( See Video – The Guardian Newspaper, Tues 20 Oct 2015 ‘ Tory MP Attacks George Osbornes Tax Credit Plans In Maiden Speech ‘ )

          • Heidi Hi!

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