Summary of Major Objections

Summary of Major Objections

Photo: maistora.


We have one general and seven particular objections to Liverpool City Council’s new street performance policy.

In general, then, we object to the negative tone of the language used towards street performers throughout the minutes of the Cabinet Meeting where the new policy was put forward. For example:

At present street entertainment within the city centre can be intrusive to both businesses and residents alike. Street entertainers have in the past been accused of noise nuisance violations, repetitive performances, offensive/inappropriate behaviour and causing dangerous obstructions. There has been an increase in reports of abusive and offensive incidents which has caused alarm and distress to members of the general public and businesses within the city centre.

We believe this quote significantly overstates the issues that do arise from time to time from street performance, in order to provide a justification for the extensive and restrictive terms and conditions which Liverpool City Council are now requiring performers to sign up to.

Our seven particular objections to Liverpool City Council’s policy are as follows:

1. The policy uses coercive language and nebulous threats of prosecution for trespass in letters handed out to street artists and performers ahead of the new scheme, which needlessly intimidate vulnerable people and are exceptionally heavy handed. Since trespass is a civil, rather crimanal, offense, and requires material loss to be be proved,  legally highly questionable.

2. In extending enforcement powers to stop street performance on the smallest of pretexts, the policy risks turning those individual council officers and police into a poor man’s Simon Cowell in the sense that they can efectively prevent licensed performers from performing simply because they take an aesthetic dislike to your act or even to what you are wearing. 

3. The policy erroenously claims that “is illegal for persons under 18 to play, sing or perform in a street for money or monies worth”. In fact, the government’s own guidlines clearly state that “Children under 14 years may not busk”.

4. The policy is full of arbitrary specifications that make little sense. For instance: performers cannot occupy more then a 1.5m radius; sound must not be heard from more than 30m away; there can be no more than 5 people in a musical ensemble; signs must not be bigger than A4 in size; and no leaflets or demo CDs can be given away. The combined effect of all these sub-clauses is to grant officials of the council and enforcement officers due scope to endlessly chip away at performers and their ability to generate income by showcasing their talents.

5. The policy unnecessarily and arbitrarily limits the space wherein performances can take place, relegating street performance to a few officially sanctioned pitches, many of them in locations wholly unsuitable performance. Liverpool city centre has many natural pitches that performers are themselves accustomed for various reasons to performing upon: whether those reasons are acoustical, social or, indeed, economic. We favour dynamic rolling pitches with a recommendation for a 50m distance between noise-generating acts, with little restrictions on where ‘quiet’ acts like pavement artists can operate.

6. The policy requires performers to book with the council up to a week in advance to play for a maximum of two hours at any one pitch, turning what is often a spontaneous cultural event into a tightly controlled and highly limited activity. The policy is overly restrictive and needlessly bureaucratic. Street performance is, after all, a highly self-regulating business activity – those performers who are bad will not earn any money and quickly reconsider their act, whilst those who are good will flourish economically. The policy, furthermore, will make it much more difficult to make a living from street performance, thereby discouraging more accomplished acts from playing in Liverpool – the exact opposite result of the policy’s stated aims.

7. The policy discriminates against performers who use animals in their act. One owl-handler, who has a animal handling licence and £10 million worth of public liability insurance, and whose street act incorporates elements of educating people about birds of prey will be banned for no good reason.

We have gone into greater detail about specific articles of the policy in previous posts. In closing, it suffices to say that in a city which is known internationally and deservedly as a top destination for the arts and for its cultural life – as well as being the birthplace of the most renowned popular band of all time – Liverpool City Council’s new policy is a non-starter. We therefore respectfully ask Liverpool City Council to think again and come up with a policy that truly celebrates the vibrancy of street life without attempting to put street art and performance inside a tightly regulated box.
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1 Comment on "Summary of Major Objections"

  • A Defence Against Beauro/Legalistic Bullying On The Streets ( * or Uncanny Similarities, Shared Petty Tyrannies ! )

    Congratulations in coming up with a ‘well-articulated’ ( proto-legalise, yeah ditto ! ) defense against the ‘atypical’ beauro/legalistic bullying a ‘council’ will come up with when it desires to ‘break-up’ otherwise creative cultural activity that threatens ( or what the ‘political’ body ‘percieves’ poses a threat to ) ‘big-boy’ commercial interests. See. New Labour, Gordan Brown, Local Authorities & the rise ( tho’ not yet fall ) of the BID ( or Business Investment Development Area/Scheme ).

    Sad tho’ ( quite indefensible ) Streetlives.orgs support for ( & no mention of complaints of ) those found guility ( by the ‘official’ Justices system ) of ‘outlaw’ busker bullying on our streets.

    For example the whole ‘street’ sordid affair involving quote your ” friend in Bham ” Anthony Scott ( Q. Streetlive.orgs or Buskers Unregulated ‘good’ mate ? ). Nevermind merely rising up against ‘council’ officials & the like ( yes in my learned ‘opinion’ many of them ‘repressed’ haters, bullies etc ) what about a more ‘specific’ rallying cry ( ‘vehemently’ critical ! ) against the likes of Scott bullying & harrassing others on the streets ( eg. attacking ‘defenceless’ female Buskers, intimidation threats to cut off fingers, ‘spitting’ on amplifiers, ‘relentless’ social media smear campaigns follwing a dispute ( easily remedied in the ‘civil’ sense ) over a ‘city-centre’ busking spot. attempted post-incident ‘online’ social media smears etc ! ).

    No for so-called ‘activists’ ( wallowing, bathing in their ‘hallowd’, moral, crusading selves ! ) strangely ‘silence’, not even a hush. Esoteric, unearthly disquieting especially given the social ‘fact’ of him finally recieving a suspended ‘prison’ sentence from Bham Magistrates court, him found ‘guilty’ of an actual ‘criminal’ ( not ‘civil’ ) offence i.e. his 2nd ‘harrassment’ conviction!. ( See. Bham Mail 27 Oct 2015 ” Birmingham Busker Who Terrorised Teenage Rival Gets Suspended Jail Sentence ) .

    I ‘comment’ elswhere ( see Newcastle Blog ) how Social Realist film Director Ken Loach described the contemporary Russian economy ( Putins Russia ! ) as a form of ‘Gangster’ Capitalism whilst appearing as a panel guest on a recent episode of BBC1’s ‘Question Time ‘ & addressing a Gloucester audience.To ‘contextualise’ what I ( & many others ), & not ‘hyperbolistically’, call the Tony Scott busking ‘scandal’, it must be ‘realised’ that it occured in Birmingham during a ‘significant’ phase of a year or so ago when the ‘city-centre’ streets were ‘host’ to a ‘creeping’ kind of ‘busking’ gangsterism,

    Eg. ‘Female’ buskers having their ‘amps’ spat upon, intimidated & then socially media bullied ( ‘smeared’ ) over busking spot disputes, the incidence of little 2 or 3 man ‘narc’ clicques forming around particular best ‘spots’ & them ‘manipulatively’ ( selfishly ! ) seeking to dominate them via ‘mobile’ phone links/connections etc, buskers arriving at spots first ( myself incl. ) intimidated, threatened, bullied by eg. being attemptedly ‘brushed’ aside on the spot, set up on & played over etc .

    In Stratford upon Avon this summer there were even intances of ‘busking’ bungs being passed around ( yeah ‘Chigago’ politics style ‘cash for spots’ ) wherebye ‘select’ street performers ( obviously vulnerable to the take ! ) were approached & payed ‘moneys’ for their ‘space’ !. This ‘dodgy’ nasty little practise creating a kind of ‘petty’ corrupt atmosphere, a moral ‘tone’ running counter to the ‘democratic’ spirit of the relatively fair busking ‘code’ set in place in this ‘busy’ Tourist town. Importantly perpertrated by known ‘associates’ of

    Of course with regards Buskers & the practice of Street Performing ( getting back to the issues, & general ‘defence’ points contained in the above Blog ! ) one can only talk of ‘relative’ fairness when speaking of BIDs, their city/town centre style of ‘management’, their relationships with local ‘political’ authorites i.e. the Council & ‘local’ commercial ‘High Street’ interests . To back this point up I cite the recent ‘experiential’ example below

    Eg. Me stating, that despite the fact that ‘busking’ in the this popular Tourist town is ‘formally’ welcomed ( See. Stratforward BID website ) nevertheless the ‘established’ ( generally agreed upon ) 3 or 4 years old busking code revolves around a a 2hr ‘revolving’ spot scheme not the 1hr one as ‘advertised’ ( Nb. without ‘consultation’ & rather scurrulously re-worded by last years ‘new’ Manager, herself now gone ( left the post ! ) & replaced by current new Director ! . )

    * Edit = A correction ( insert ‘the’ ) eg. ” replaced by ‘the’ current new Director ! ” .

    The main issue I’d like to raise here ( in the ‘latter’ context ) being Q. Is it only ‘Quasi’ Buearu/Legalistic organisations such as the Local Athority affiliated BID’s that are capable of ( ‘guilty’ of ) just that i.e. Orwell like ( blatant & ‘cynical’ ) ‘maniplation’ of language & the law. so as to serve best their own wider ‘poltical’ interests nevermind the ‘common’ man ( consumer ‘subject’ ) or ordinary common-sense ( & well behaved ) ‘Busker’ on the street ? .

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