Evening Standard: Bill Bailey Warns Blitz On Buskers Wrecks Camden’s Music Rep

Evening Standard: Bill Bailey Warns Blitz On Buskers Wrecks Camden’s Music Rep

Published by the London Evening Standard by Anna Dubuis on 13th March 2014. Please note that there are many factual errors in this article in relation to the terms of the busking policy. These include: special licenses do not allow playing after 9pm and are required for anybody who wishes to use wind instruments, percussion or any amplification. There is no presumption that special licenses, once applied for, will be granted.

View the London Evening Standard article here.

Comedian Bill Bailey today warned that a clampdown on buskers in Camden risks wrecking the borough’s reputation for music.

Bailey spoke out after the council successfully defended a policy forcing street entertainers to buy licences against a High Court challenge. From March 24, busking without a licence will be a criminal offence enforced with fines of up to £1,000 and the power to seize instruments.

A standard licence will cost £19 a year, but musicians using amplifiers or playing after 9pm will have to pay £47 and have their request approved by the authority. The policy was drawn up following complaints from residents about late-night noise. Musician Bailey, 50, said: “Clamping down on this is a lessening of the soul of a city. It’s a very worrying precedent, we need to fight it.  I’ve been a busker in my time.

French visitors: the Jerry Khan Bangers performing in the borough (Nigel Howard)“When I first came to London the first performance I saw was a busker. I heard a fantastic saxophone player and then a brilliant string quartet and I thought, ‘Wow what an amazing city this is’. Busking is the last bit of freedom you can have in performance.”

Mrs Justice Patterson, sitting at the High Court, ruled Camden’s policy was “both necessary and a proportionate response”. The ruling is a blow for the Keeping Streets Live Campaign, which has been ordered to pay £7,500 costs. Busker Jonny Walker, 33, who led the campaign, pledged to take the case to the Court of Appeal, saying Camden’s musical heritage was under threat.

Lindçay Amanat of the Jerry Khan Bangers, visiting from Toulouse, said: “We came to Camden knowing its reputation for music. If they introduce a licence, I don’t think we will pay it and will go somewhere else.”

Maryam Eslamdoust, chairwoman of the licensing committee, said: “We had to adopt this regulation to address ongoing nuisance suffered by residents.”

Camden New Journal: Buskers Lose High Court Battle

Camden New Journal: Buskers Lose High Court Battle

Published by Camden New Journal by Pavan Amara on 11th MArch 2014

See the article on Camden New Journal here.

BUSKERS in Camden Town have lost their High Court battle against Camden Council’s new licensing policy for street performers, but vowed this afternoon (Tuesday) that they “will not stop here”.

The musicians are fighting new rules which demand they all have licences, bans amplified music and sets a 9pm curfew for performances.

Instruments can be confiscated under the new rules which the Town Hall says it introduced to protect residents from disturbance.

These rules were challenged by a two-day judicial review earlier this month, but a High Court ruling released today by Mrs Justice Patterson at the Royal Courts of Justice said Camden did not need to tear up its plans.

Jonny Walker, from the Keep Streets Live campaign group, said the High Court judge had taken the council’s argument at “face value”.

He said: “We profoundly disagree with her judgement and will now seek to have this case heard by the Court of Appeal and to ask Camden not to enforce their policy until the case is heard by a higher court. Under Camden’s policy even singing a protest song without a licence could be a criminal offence. In a democratic society, singing a song in the street should never be a potential criminal offence.”

He added that buskers had the option of going to the House of Lords and then to Strasbourg to fight their case.

The full 26-page judgement was published today, and stated that the policy “would be in pursuit of a legitimate aim”.

Mrs Justice Patterson noted that the scheme “is excessive because it applies across the borough, applies to many activities which could reasonably be exempt, and applies a sweeping judgement against certain forms of street entertainment”.

But she added that “large varieties of busking are untouched, there is no restriction on the content of any busking and the fees for a standard licence are low”.

Cllr Maryam Eslamdoust, who is the council’s chairwoman of licensing, said she was pleased with the result.

She added: “The court has affirmed that regulation is not prohibition and we look forward to a responsible busking scene living alongside our residents.”

Ham & High: Judge rejects High Court challenge

Ham & High: Judge rejects High Court challenge

Published by the Ham&High by Tim Lamden on 11th March 2014.

See the Ham&High article here.

Controversial laws to licence busking in Camden will be enforced by the council after a legal challenge to halt the new rules was rejected by a High Court judge. 

Following a two-day judicial review at the Royal Courts of Justice last month, judge Mrs Justice Patterson today ruled that Camden Council had adopted a lawful policy that was “both necessary and a proportionate response to the issue of busking”.

In October, comedian Bill Bailey and musician Billy Bragg joined campaigners in Camden High Street to protest against the new rules.

The change will mean anyone caught busking without a licence could be fined up to £1,000 and have their instruments confiscated. The use of amplifiers and wind instruments will be banned.

It follows an increase in complaints from residents about noise generated by street entertainers.

The licensing system was due to be introduced last month but was put on ice by the council until the conclusion of the High Court proceedings. Buskers will now be able to apply for a licence from March 24.

The ruling is a defeat for busking campaign group Keep Streets Live! which was ordered to pay £7,500 in legal costs.

David Wolfe QC, representing the campaign group, asked for permission to appeal, arguing that the ruling raised important legal issues and would have an impact on street entertainment across London.

But the judge refused permission and campaigners will now have to consider asking the Court of Appeal to hear the case.

Cllr Abdul Hai, Camden Council’s cabinet member for community safety, said: “By introducing this policy, we’re able to strike a balance between the rights of performers to use public spaces and the rights of our residents to a quality of life free from noise nuisance, often late at night.

“We have purposely set the costs of licences at a level that is affordable, clearly showing we do not wish to discourage music or street performances, but to find a way that works for all.”

Jonny Walker, founding director of Keep Streets Live!, said: “We are disappointed with Mrs Justice Patterson’s decision and will now seek to have this case heard by the Court of Appeal.”

A “standard” busking licence costs £19 and permits performances in public areas between the hours of 10am and 9pm. Licences are valid for a 12-month period in most circumstances.

Buskers can apply for a licence at www.camden.gov.uk/licensing or by calling 020 7974 4444.