Liverpool’s Policy and Our Objections, Part 4

Liverpool’s Policy and Our Objections, Part 4

Photo: jp3g.


They say:

15. The entertainer must take all reasonable steps to manage the audience to ensure that they do not block the highway or any public place including when appropriate reminding the audience to leave a clear access along the highway, footpath or pedestrianised area. The entertainer must stop the entertainment immediately if the highway is obstructed by the street entertainment or the audience or if a risk arises to the safety of any individual or damage to the highway or adjoining structures.


We say:

Most of this is common sense and we don’t take issue with it. However, we would point out that crowds take seconds to form and seconds to disperse. They are composed of people, dynamic living beings capable of moving quickly. A person is not an ‘obstruction’. In addition, in the absence of any other legal remedy, the Council will sometimes ask the police to threaten arrest for ‘causing an obstruction’ when no actual obstruction is taking place. This kind of abuse of the law does not help build good relationships between street performers and the relevant authorities.


They say:

16. The entertainer must maintain public liability insurance covering any performance and must, if requested to do so by a Police Constable or Council Officer (or to an officer of the land owner if performing on private land), produce proof of such insurance.


We say:

Public liability insurance is a good idea. It is often included with membership of other groups like the Musician’s Union (a group which we would strongly advice any serious musical performer to join). Other performing groups like Equity offer access to public liability policies too, or they can be bought through a broker. However, whilst we recommend that performers do get public liability insurance, we also ask for a common sense approach here. Does a squeeze box player or an acoustic guitarist on a side street really need £5 million worth of public liability insurance before they be permitted to play in public? In this matter we feel that a distinction should be made between performers using more equipment and playing on more prominent pitches, and those who are not using much equipment and are playing in less prominent locations. We would hope that common sense would prevail at all times and that public liability insurance does not become an absolute requirement for street performance of all sorts.


They say:

17. Amplification

  1. Amplification of music or singing will be permitted, but not such where the volume gives rise to complaint; entertainment must not be audible beyond 30 metres of the performance above the normal level of street noise.
  2. Where amplifiers are allowed, they must be battery powered; mains or generator powered amplifiers are not permitted.

We say:

Amplification raises many issues and divides opinions. In our view, amplification is not the major issue. It is what is amplified that counts. We don’t believe that amps are the enemy – after all, there are plenty of louder unplugged instruments like bag-pipes, drums and saxophones. The principal issue here is that of consideration. Performers should take account of the time of day, the street setting and the nature of the surrounding businesses when setting volumes. However, we do not find a specified distance limit to be useful. 30m is an arbitrary specification. Sound travels differently according to wind direction, height of buildings and volume of people in the vicinity. An agreed upper decibel level would be more useful. Furthermore, we cannot state strongly enough how unrealistic it is for a local council not to receive complaints about performers, whether about the volume or some other, more subjective, feature of a performance. We therefore urge to council to strive for a fair balance between a small proportion of expressed complaints, and the unexpressed enjoyment of the overwhelming majority.

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

5 Comments on "Liverpool’s Policy and Our Objections, Part 4"

  • As a member of British trade union Equity I am covered for up to £10 million. So for any street artistes who require public liability insurance then simply become a member of the performers union. There is a registration or admin fee of £25 and then it’s membership subscriptions. You can pay monthly, quarterly or yearly. Membership starts from around £100 per year for members aged 16 and over.

  • Mal Goode says

    A 16 year old, Harriet Jane Marsland, appeared in the Busking It competition. She says ” I won the competition and will be playing in Sound City this weekend” and “I’ll hopefully be busking some more over this Summer”.
    The new licence under 18 rule makes her illegal for another 2 years! Crazy!

  • I believe many of the terms and conditions to be fair but they appear not to be as the terms are not very clear. I think common sense has to be used.

    For example:

    ” The entertainer must not wear anything which is likely to cause offence – etc. ” A shirt with racist or abusive words would be wrong. Wearing a Manchester United shirt in Liverpool many might find offensive (LOL) but would an official have the right to stand them down or ban them? Of course not, just as they wouldn’t be allowed to stand down or ban a street entertainer because of the color of their skin or their sexuality. Common sense must be used.

    ” The police or any other council official can stand a street entertainer down if they don’t dime the entertainment suitable ”

    A comedian telling offensive jokes or a singer who is terrible (useless) could be stood down or banned legally.

    ” The entertainer must not hand out flyers – etc.)

    Actually they can, subject to the member of the public requesting their details or showing an interest in hiring them. The council officials have confirmed this to me. What they mustn’t do is randomly hand them out.

    ” The terms also state that entertainers mustn’t give away free merchandise such as balloons and sweets ”.

    This is also not true, not in all all cases. As balloon modelling is an artist and entertainment it is acceptable for me to make balloon animals (etc.) and give them away for free, accepting donations from the public.

    The terms and conditions are not very clear. If an entertainer were to give out a flyer on the request of a member of the public or an entertainer were to make and give away balloon animals (and other models) they would appear to be in breach of the terms and conditions, but I can assure all street entertainers that this is not the case.

    I will be in Town on Monday 9th July to give my support.

  • I was busking in Liverpool town centre today with my new street entertainers license when I noticed other artistes (some haven’t not signed up to the new scheme) busking on pitches which they hadnb’t booked. How do I know they hadn’t booked? Because they had been booked by me. Not one enforcement officer requested that they move on. Even the human statue was handing out his sweets which is no longer permitted. Having said that I did witness an enforcement officer telling them off for something, perhaps it was for giving away sweets.

    Convinced that the new regulations had been crapped I questioned two of the enforcement officers. The reply I got from one of them was shocking. ” We have been told we can’t talk to you about it, you must speak to the council ” he told me. They are the council Jim Lyons (Enforcement manager I believe he is. Something like that.) told me when I complained. He was not happy with their attitude. Jim has told me that the enforcement officers have been told to not be too hard on street entertainers who are not aware of the new rules and to allow them to continue busking.

    But the enforcement officers aren’t even standing down those street entertainers who are aware of the rules and are ignoring them.

    When I spoke to one of the enforcement officers he told me that Monday’s protest (etc.) had caused problems and made the council think twice. However Jim Lyons claims that the same rules do apply.

    I believe the enforcement officers have been instructed to not enforce the new regulations by someone at the top. The new policy can not been crapped officially as this will take time. It looks very fishy indeed.

    Looks like street entertainers have won the fight, just not officially.

    • Scrapped sorry. They have been scrapped, not crapped.

      Perhaps I had the thought of ‘ crap new regulations ‘ in my head when I wrote the above.

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