ASB and Policing Act 2014, PSPOs what do they mean for public space?

ASB and Policing Act 2014, PSPOs what do they mean for public space?

Keep Streets Live – protecting cultural freedoms and access to public space for the arts

Sweeping new powers hidden in the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 come into force on October 20th, and already local authorities are planning to use them against buskers. This act gives councils the power to introduce PSPOs (Public Space Protection Orders) which can be used to ‘ban’ activities in public spaces, even if they are not illegal. The Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods in Bath, David Dixon, has stated that PSPOs will be used against buskers in that cityafter the Rector of Bath Abbey Edward Mason brought an evening service to a halt because of the noise he claimed street musicians were making. I will be taking part in a public debate about civic freedoms and public space with Rev Mason and Councillor Dixon this Saturday at the Battle of Ideas event held at the Barbican in London. Tickets are still available. Keep Streets Live will be at the forefront of scrutinising these new powers and their impact upon cultural and civic freedoms in the months and years ahead.

Meanwhile it is a year since the Citizen’s Kazoo Orchestra and the Church of the Holy Kazoo were founded as a protest vehicle against Camden Council’s criminalisation of busking in that previously vibrant corner of London. Our ongoing legal challenge against that policy reaches the Court of Appeal on November 13th with a permission hearing. On Sunday 19th October we will be taking to the streets of Camden for an anniversary protest busk. Because busking is a sacred act for the Church of the Holy Kazoo, and our hymnbook is every piece of music ever written and performed, our protest busk falls under the exemption granted by Camden to ‘music that is part of a religious service or ceremony’. Join us on Camden High Street from 1pm onwards. This is a link to the facebook event: All are welcome! Camden, we are not giving up on you!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1474664902822738/

Keep Streets Live exists to promote good relationships between buskers, local authorities and all users of shared public spaces. Whilst we oppose the use of blanket powers against street culture that criminalise harmless activity we recognise that councils need guidance for the oversight of busking. We are proud to have worked alongside Liverpool City Council and the Business Improvement District to produce a Best Practise Guidance document for street culture. We are now part of a London Mayoral Taskforce for the oversight of busking where we have been sharing the contents of the Liverpool document with the Mayor’s team. We believe that the principles in this guidance provide a working template not just for Liverpool but for other towns and cities in the UK and beyond that want to encourage harmonious relationships between those who share our public spaces whilst preserving a vibrant street culture. In a free society, freedom of expression must be protected and this guidance is a clear and workable alternative to the criminalisation of street culture and the application of coercive legal powers that some local authorities turn towards all too readily.You can see that document here: http://keepstreetslive.com/uncategorized/2014/09/best-practice-busking-guide

Thank you for your continued interest and support. We hope to see you on a street filled with music some day soon!

Love,

Jonny Walker

Director Keep Streets Live Campaign

http://keepstreetslive.com
https://www.facebook.com/groups/keepstreetslivecamden/
http://facebook.com/jonnysongs

Best Practice Busking Guide

Best Practice Busking Guide

This best practise guidance has been jointly produced by the Keep Streets Live Campaign, Liverpool City Council and Liverpool Business Improvement District. It aims to preserve and safeguard a vibrant, open and spontaneous street culture whilst at the same time giving businesses, residents and buskers alike the tools to deal with issues that sometimes arrive at street level. We believe that buskers and local authorities working together towards the common good is the best way of safeguarding the street performing tradition and keeping public spaces open to the arts. We are certain that Liverpool’s forward-looking approach will be followed in other towns and cities in the UK and beyond.

Liverpool Leads the Way

Liverpool Leads the Way

Two years is a long time in street politics

What a difference a couple of years makes!

In the summer of 2012 Liverpool City Council caused consternation amongst the grassroots cultural community when they introduced a controversial busking policy placing severe restrictions on the right to perform music and art in public spaces within the city. Anybody wishing to busk in the city was to be required to pay a license and to purchase a minimum of £10 million worth of public liability insurance (Usually costing over £100). The policy included a ban on all under-18 performers and what was dubbed ‘the Simon Cowell clause’ which allowed any civic or police official the power to pull the plug on a performance on the grounds that ‘it was not of sufficient quality’. Most controversially unlicensed buskers were to be issued with threats of trespass prosecutions on the public highway for ‘unauthorised’ performances. The Keep Streets Live Campaign was born in opposition to these plans which would have made Liverpool perhaps the least-busker friendly city within the UK. Following a petition, street protests and a formal legal challenge, Liverpool Council listened to the concerns of the Keep Streets Live Campaign and dropped their old policy in September 2012.

Well over a year later in January 2014 the Keep Streets Live Campaign received an invitation from the City Council to participate in talks to design new guidance for busking in the city, this time with the full and active involvement of the wider busking community. An open invitation was issued to buskers to be part of the process and, over a period of 7 months, around 15 face to face meetings were held between buskers, the Musician’s Union, Liverpool BID Company and the City Council to produce guidance that all could agree upon.

One of the key aspects of the new guidance is the provisions for buskers to have regular open meetings both amongst the busking community and with the City Council to discuss issues as they arise. This is to help good relationships amongst buskers and to ensure that buskers and the Council remain engaged in a positive, ongoing dialogue.

Buskers will not be required to get a license before they perform in the city but instead asks them to be considerate and respectful of other users of shared public spaces, and in turn, asks businesses and public officials who have issues with buskers to let them know in a polite and considerate way. It marks a complete watershed in the way that busking is overseen within the City of Liverpool and ensures that this world famous music city is leading the way in its active encouragement of street culture.

Promoting Harmony on the Streets

The Guide to Busking in Liverpool has been produced as a joint initiative with Musicians’ Union (MU), Liverpool City Council, the Keep Streets Live Campaign and the Business Improvement District (BID).

The 12 page best practice guide advises buskers, council officers, businesses and residents on issues such as pitch selection, noise levels and the best way of resolving issues. A laminated advice card is also being produced which highlights guidance and recommendations.

This move represents a new approach to street entertainment in Liverpool. In 2012 a managed system of buskers with licensed pitches was to be introduced but was opposed by buskers and the MU and the idea was dropped.

It is anticipated that that the new guidance will help reduce the number of complaints and lead to those which continue being resolved amicably. It also sets out the procedures for enforcement should this prove necessary.

Morris Stemp, North of England Regional Organiser for the Musicians’ Union, said:

“This is a real achievement for all parties concerned, and I’d like to congratulate Liverpool City Council and the BID for engaging so actively with interested parties and organisations to be with us at the forefront of this initiative.

“The aim of the guide is to foster a vibrant street culture which allows for spontaneity whilst at the same time making provision for constructively resolving any issues that may arise using existing statutory powers, and is an example I anticipate many will want to follow. It also blows apart the myth that busking is in some way illegal.

“This is in stark contrast to some less pragmatic authorities and councils, where heavy handed regulation and over-zealous bureaucracy stifle self-expression. Buskers in Liverpool now have a guide that will help nurture music and other art forms on the streets, with all the benefits this will bring to the city, to buskers and to wider society.

“I believe that collaborations such as this, where street entertainment is rightly valued and encouraged, will be the future for busking in cities, towns and villages in this country. I would urge other authorities to follow Liverpool’s pragmatic approach and let us help them provide a landscape which nurtures the talents which our members can provide.”

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said;

“It represents an entirely new approach to busking in Liverpool, a city famous for its culture and music. By working together with the busking community we will bring our streets alive for the benefit of everyone.”

Councillor Steve Munby, cabinet member for neighbourhoods said:

“I think visitors to the city would be surprised and disappointed if they didn’t find a lively street music culture, given the city’s reputation. But we also know there are complaints from business and visitors about noise and obstructions so we have tried to balance the needs of all parties.

“I don’t mind making mistakes as long as we learn from them. We recognised that an imposed solution was never going to work so we have brought together a range of organisations to produce this guide. This has been a unique partnership which bodes well for the future of street entertainment. I’m really grateful to everyone who’s been involved.

“The guide sets out a positive way forward and if everybody follows the guidance in it we can have a thriving street culture based on good relationships.”

Jonny Walker, Founding director of the Keep Streets Live Campaignsaid:

“The collaborative approach that Liverpool City Council have modelled in putting together this busking guidance makes it a pioneer amongst major cities worldwide in its active support for grassroots street culture.

“The busking community has had the unique opportunity of working alongside the local authority, the BID and the Musicians’ Union to preserve the spontaneity and informality which is intrinsic to the nature of busking, whilst actively seeking to build good relationships between all those who share public space in the city. It is right that buskers should be closely involved in decisions that affect them and it is to Liverpool City Council’s immense credit that they chose to include the busking community at all stages in the production of this guidance.

“The busking community will continue to cooperate with the local authority to ensure the ongoing success of this new approach, and will hold a regular open buskers’ meeting which all are welcome to attend. We are confident that this guidance will help to harness the capacity of busking to transform the experience of shared public spaces in the city, and to continue to play its part in what makes Liverpool such a wonderful place to live, work and visit.”

Bill Addy, Chief Executive of Liverpool BID Company, said:

“We welcome the introduction of this guide. It brings some clarity as to what is expected of everyone to ensure the vibrancy of Liverpool city centre is a cause for celebration and not consternation. Street entertainment can be a huge added bonus to the appeal of a city centre and this guide is a very encouraging step forward in ensuring Liverpool gets the balance right for all parties.”

The new guidance is being introduced in September with the first open busker’s meeting due to take place on the evening of Tuesday 23rd September at 7pm at the Lomax. On behalf of the Keep Streets Live Campaign I urge everyone who cherishes Liverpool’s vibrant street culture to come along, all are welcome.

Jonny Walker

Founding director, Keep Streets Live Campaign