York: KSL approves new guidance.

York: KSL approves new guidance.

City of York Council have launched their new busking guidance, in conjunction with Make It York, to ensure clarity and fairness for people when performing in York.

The guidelines highlight public and private spaces in popular busking locations, as well as considerations buskers should make when performing, including amplification which is prohibited between 9pm – 8am.

The busking document also addresses issues such as the offer of goods and services, volume and pitch of the performance, and advice for residents and businesses. 

Should performers fail to adhere to the guidelines or should a complaint be made by the public, a warning notice may be issued. Following the issue of a notice, should the busker fail to adhere, legal action can be taken by City of York Council.

Cllr Denise Craghill,Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods at City of York Council, said:“It’s clear to us that busking is of great value to our city and despite growing numbers, we get very few complaints escalated for enforcement. 

“However, it is important that when we do get complaints, we have a clear and fair way of dealing with problems such as excessive volume and obstruction to footpaths. 

“We look forward to working with Make It York and our busking community to ensure the street performances our city is well known for, are enjoyable for residents, businesses and visitors alike.” 

Chris Price, Head of City Centre and Markets at Make It York, said:“Busking is an important part of creating a vibrant, exciting and cosmopolitan atmosphere for residents, visitors and businesses in York.

“As a city we encourage busking and we want to welcome buskers from across the County and beyond, and will continue to work closely with the busking community as these new guidelines come into place.”

Chester Bingley from Keep Streets Live, a group representing the busking community said:“Keep Streets Live is happy to see that York is continuing its positive approach to busking and street entertainment.  

“The new guidance maintains the creative spirit whilst improving clarity, ensuring that responsible performers are made welcome and that York maintains its reputation as a vibrant cultural hub.” 

The guidance can be found on www.york.gov.uk/busking

Busking in Scotland

Busking in Scotland

We were recently contacted by The Times to discuss stories of clampdowns on busking in Scotland. We’ve already been campaigning in Edinburgh for some time, but there have apparently been worrying developments in Dundee where amplification has been banned and performance limited to three locations across the entire city.

KSL Director Chester Bingley quoted in The Times.

“We recognise some street performance can be disruptive but the way forward is to have structured communication with all parties to find workable solutions. Edinburgh council have chosen not to do this and have put up their own signs that have no basis in law. Choosing to perform in the streets is not illegal and has deep historic and cultural roots.”

The arbitrary rules introduced by Edinburgh and Dundee have no basis whatsoever in law. In fact, as Police Officers in Scotland already have extensive powers under Section 54 of the 1982 Civic Governance Act to stop any busker if they are giving ‘reasonable cause for annoyance’, they are also rendered utterly unnecessary. Councils already have every weapon they need to deal with any problems that arise on a case-by-case basis. These ‘rules’ merely serve to extend punishment to those who are causing no disturbance and facilitate the domination and control of public spaces by BIDs and local authorities.

Protest Nottingham PSPO

Protest Nottingham PSPO

Buskers’ rights groups – led by the Keep Streets Live campaign, along with the MusiciansUnion and Equity – have lodged a formal objection to Nottingham City Council’s draft Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO).

The groups say that the proposals will criminalise street performance across almost the entire city centre, regardless of whether any disturbance or nuisance is actually being caused.

Keep Streets Live has proposed an alternative route– a system of busking guidance now successfully adopted by several dozen towns and cities across the UK, including Liverpool, York and Birmingham. But so far we have received nothing from the council other than an offer to monitor the PSPO once it has been put in place. We are disappointed that it seems a decision has already been made, despite objections from both local buskers and national professional bodies.

In response to the draft PSPO, Stephen Brown, Musicians’ Union Midlands regional organiser said:

“The MU has a clearly defined policy agreed by our membership to ensure that busking remains a vibrant, spontaneous and attractive cultural offer. Our approach is inclusive, encourages working with stakeholders in a positive way, but does not hinder local authorities from taking action on genuine nuisance. Cities imposing PSPOs as a solution to what they perceive as busking generated issues clearly misunderstand busking and are using a sledge hammer to crack a nut. I’d advise Nottingham City Council to step back from the brink, and work with organisations like the MU and Keep Streets Live to avoid alienating sections of its own community and suppressing well-established cultural liberty and freedoms.”

Tim Clement-Jones, a Lib Dem peer and prominent live music campaigner, said:

“Busking is vital for bringing cities to life and developing local musical talent. In the recent PSPO Statutory Guidance the government made it clear that busking should not be unduly restricted. I urge Nottingham City Council to reconsider these restrictive and unnecessary proposals.”

Keep Streets Live director Chester Bingley added:

“Considering that even the Antisocial Behaviour team has described problems with busking as only occurring ‘occasionally’, a PSPO seems vastly disproportionate and would certainly be open to a legal challenge. We question why these occasional problems cannot be dealt with firstly by simple dialogue, and then if necessary using existing legislation that targets the individuals concerned rather than inflicts collective punishment on all performers.”

The buskers’ groups are working with the Manifesto Club, which has also raised objections to the parts of the Nottingham PSPO that restrict leafleting, charity collection, and begging. In a submission to Nottingham council, the group said that these measures will ‘do great damage to the citys lively culture of political organisations and charitable causes – as well as making it impossible for homeless people to make money in order to eat.’ Manifesto Club response to Nottingham PSPO

The groups are planning a day of action (including music, leafleting, and a petition) to highlight the contents of the PSPO, raise awareness of its impact, and persuade the police and council that a genuine and active consultation should take place.