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.

Liverpool’s policy and our objections, Part 2

Liverpool’s policy and our objections, Part 2

Photo: LepititNicholas

 

Liverpool City Council say:

4. Formal events organised by Liverpool City Council, Liverpool One, City Centre BID, Commercial District Bid, Albert Dock Company, and their partners will take precedence over street entertainment.

 

We say:

Street entertainers will be tolerated if they meet Liverpool City Council’s strict requirements, in other words, but will be cleared to make way for pre-arranged events. For major festivals like the annual Beatles week and Mathew Street festival, the streets are often completely ‘swept clean’ of performers by police acting on the council’s orders. It strikes us that this statement enshrines a preference to ‘hire in’ street life into local government policy, rather than encouraging spontaneous and organic street culture to flourish, as Liverpool has done historically.

 

They say:

5. Entertainers […] shall not dress or say or express in any other way anything which is likely to cause alarm, distress or offence to a member of the public. The entertainment should not include any activity which could cause harm to members of the public […]

 

We say:

This statement is worryingly vague. The policy has veered firmly into the subjective realm of opinions. Some of us like to wear bright blue trousers, which some find offensive, but that is hardly grounds enough for preventing those who wear such clothes from performing on Liverpool’s streets. Offence thresholds vary considerably from person to person. Any offence registered ought to be weighed against the unexpressed wishes of those who, for whatever reason, do not voice their enjoyment which street performance brings. Of the many thousands who enjoy street performance, few feel the need to express their enjoyment in any formal letter to their local council. They take for granted that the council will protect Liverpool’s vibrant street culture.

In adjudicating between competing rights, then, we would do well to recall John Stuart Mill’s famous ‘harm principle’: the actions of individuals should only be curtailed in order to prevent harm to other individuals. In our analysis, the offence taken by a few individuals to street performers in no way constitutes adequate grounds for curtailing the enjoyment that countless people take from street performance – be it unregulated or otherwise.

 

They say:

6. Only one entertainer or group of entertainers (maximum 5) will be allowed at any one time at any one site without prior consent.


We say:

Five entertainers constitutes an arbitrary limitations on the number of performers, excluding such notable street performers as the nine piece Liverpool-based Kazimier Krunk band seen here performing in Edinburgh, who continue busk around Liverpool city centre and LiverpoolOne on a regular basis:

 

 

We therefore urge the council to provide their reasoning behind this seemingly-arbitrary figure. This figure is part of a broader trend within Liverpool City Council’s policy to prescribe every single detail of street performance – a trend which fails to appreciate the realities of street performance. A well-rehearsed nine-piece jazz band will cause less nuisance, on balance, then one badly-rehearsed bagpiper.

 

They say:

7. Entertainers must stand unless their performance requires them to be seated or if they have a disability which prevents them from standing. If their performance does require them to be seated then this must NOT be directly on the floor.

 

We say:

Some street performers like to sit on the floor, some like to stand, some like to sit on a chair. It is unclear why, when neither of these seating arrangements is liable to cause any harm, such prosaic concerns should fall to any local council to decide.

 

They say:

8. A small (up to A4 sized) notice advising of thanks and detailing sources of further information (social media sites etc) about the street entertainer may be displayed on side of the open receptacle.

 

We say:

What grounds are there for Liverpool City Council to decide on the size of paper a performer might use to display his/her biography Facebook page? Writing on A4 is rather small from a distance? What difference could it possibly make for the sign to be A3? This is yet another example of Liverpool City Council’s policy being unnecessarily prescriptive.