Liverpool’s policy and our objections, Part 3

Liverpool’s policy and our objections, Part 3

Photo: agm92


Liverpool City Council say:

9. The entertainer must not sell, offer for sale or expose for sale any merchandise such as pre-recorded CDs, tapes, t-shirts or postcards.


We say:

Why does the council not follow the example of York who allow buskers to purchase an occasional street trading consent for the purposes of selling CDs or Gloucester which allows a small CD box to be in the receptacle? Often street performing is a way for musicians to get work elsewhere and they give away CDs with examples of their work to help them get gigs. We see nothing wrong with giving away CDs to people who are interested in them.


They say:

10. The entertainer must not distribute confectionery or other foods, flyers or free merchandise.


We say:

We see no reason why somebody who was interested in a performer and finding out more about them should be prevented from taking a flyer or a free CD. Again, this is restrictive for no good reason and an unnecessary restraint of trade. On the other hand, we can understand their point with regards to food and confectionery and would not encourage performers to distribute food as part of their act (we can assure you that this is not the practise of most Street Performers in any event).


They say:

11. Entertainers must cease their performance and move on if requested to do so for any reason by a Police Constable or a Council Officer. For the avoidance of doubt, such reason may include the Constable or Officer not being satisfied in their opinion that the performance is of a satisfactory quality.


We say:

This is where the policy slips into really murky waters. Liverpool City Council are claiming summary powers to stop performances for any reason. Are we to believe that Liverpool council and police officers should take on the role of a poor man’s SImon Cowell? This would be amusing if it wasn’t such an encroachment upon a person’s freedom, and the rights of an audience to decide for themselves what they enjoy listening to. This is not the role of a city council, and this clause introduces a massive potential for abuse on the part of individual officers.


They say:

12. It is illegal for persons under 18 to play, sing or perform in a street for money or monies.


We say:

George Harrison was 17 when the Beatles played Hamburg. He would have been too young to perform on Liverpool’s streets under the council’s new policy. George Samson, the street dancer who was 14 when he won Britain’s Got Talent, would have been arrested for trespass under the new policy. The new policy unnecessarily restricts the rights of up and coming talent to perform on the streets, and this at a time of high youth unemployment. It is yet another example of council over-reach. Furthermore, the government’s own guidelines state that busking is permissible for anybody over the age of 14.


They say:

13. The entertainer must be eligible to work in the UK.


We say:

Now the council is acting in the capacity of immigration service and border control as well as talent show judge.


They say:

14. The entertainer must be in possession of a valid Liverpool City Council Street Performance Permit whenever a performance takes place and must produce the same on request made by a Police Constable or Council Officer.


We say:

This policy is so restrictive that we would advise any street performer not to sign up to it. By signing up to this policy performers give tacit legitimacy to a policy that, at root, is coercive and restrictive. We would advise any potential street performers in Liverpool to join our campaign against this policy, and get the council to think again.

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9 Comments on "Liverpool’s policy and our objections, Part 3"

  • Like many buskers I welcome new regulations for street artiste, however Liverpool City Council are taking things too far. Booking pitches in advance, only two pitches in one location and many more strict rules are just unfair and in my opinion unworkable.

    • Jonny says

      Hey Daniel,

      You say that you welcome regulation. May I ask you what you see as being the positive aspects of regulation?

      I’m interested, because we want to come to a positive and workable dialogue with the city council on busking.

      Best wishes, and thanks for your comment,


      • The positive side of the new regulations are the removal of untalented artists or those buskers who are not entertaining.

        I also believe it’s a good idea that the police and licensing officers having the power to stand down any buskers they deem not good enough, subject to common sense. For example a singer who isn’t a good singer or a pianist who can not hit the right keys. Not being a fan of opera or magic would not be an acceptable reason of course.

        In other words, if the artist is talented then it shouldn’t be an issue. If the busker is stood down because the officer isn’t a fan of the entertainment on offer it is abuse of power and the artist would have cause to complain. It would be like an officer standing down a busker because of their skin color or sexuality, it would be abuse of power, standing down a busker has to be reasonable.

        • Jonny says

          I believe ‘untalented’ buskers have their place and I don’t want to see them stamped down on. There is an economic reason why there are so many buskers at the moment and it is do with the shortage of jobs and the closing down of music venues. We have to find a way to work together. In my view this cannot mean ganging up on the ‘untalented’. Perhaps it might involve giving them some singing/guitar lessons?

  • Boris says

    I’m happy that this is coming into effect. As a worker in Liverpool town centre there has been an explosion of buskers in recent months. Whilst some are good other are damn annoyance. Hopefully, the council will being in a time ruling aswell – meaning that you’re only allowed on a pitch for a set amount of time and not all day before moving to somewhere different and giving the hardworking folk some peace and quiet.

    • Jonny says

      Hi Boris,

      Your comment is welcome on this site, we are all for a healthy debate. We realise that not all buskers are a delight to the ear. Our fundamental problem is with the heavy handedness that the council have used to try to solve what is, in essence, a very minor nuisance caused by a few. To clamp down on everyone is not to create a workable long term solution that works for all the people who come to Liverpool, not just those who work and perform there…

      Your thoughts are always welcome here, and I thank you for taking the time to engage with the site.

  • About two weeks ago I spoke to Jim Lyons (licensing officer and main man), He has ensured me that street artistes are welcome to give out flyers, subject to the public requesting their contact details.

  • For those that don’t know me or what I do, my name is Daniel Twist and I’m a professional balloon artist, with work including busking in Liverpool. Jim Lyons has also assured me that though balloon modelling involves giving balloons away for free (accepting donations from the public) it would be acceptable as it’s part of the entertainment I provide. A human statue giving out sweets and balloons (etc.) would not be acceptable unless its entertainment such as balloon modelling. Balloon modelling is a talent and art, whereas handing out sweets and round balloons is not.

  • Mal Goode says

    What a farce and double standard Liverpool Council is conducting. I refer to the “under 18” rule – a rule that will be broken regularly during the “Tickle the Ivories” season. With Tickle the Ivories all performers are licenced to busk yet 16 year old performers have slots booked to busk! School choirs are “invited” to perform – but surely, if you are at school, you are under 18.
    I have an under 18 teenage “child” who is a street performer. She has also performed in numerous cabaret venues in Spain. She is a member of the Musicians Union and therefore has 10 million pounds of public liability insurance. The council photocopied her insurance when they gave her a document under the street entertainment registration scheme which apparently gave her permission to street perform until April 2013. She gave her name, address, email address and telephone number to the council yet no notification has been received from the council to inform her of this new license that appears to be needed. She has left school, is of working age yet the under 18 rule is based upon an outdated law made 80 years ago in a totally different era. Surely this means that Simon Cowell is breaking the law when he allows 16 and 17 year olds to perform on TV or stage. And as for “Tickle the Ivories”, it appears that if she uses one of the street pianos she is legal to busk but if she uses her own instrument to busk she is illegal. Double standards?

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