KSL Response to Newcastle PSPO proposal

KSL Response to Newcastle PSPO proposal

Please take a moment to complete this short, online consultation about a proposed Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) in Newcastle which the Keep Streets Live Campaign is opposing because it could see vulnerable, homeless and destitute people facing criminal records and fines of up to £1000 and because it is unduly restrictive and vague in its wording.


We are publishing some of our reasons for opposing the PSPO which you should feel free to use for your reference. The deadline for the consultation is Friday 14th October

Newcastle’s proposed city-wide PSPO

The proposed PSPO is too wide in its scope and likely to criminalise behaviour and activities that are not, in and of themselves, harmful. The local authority should target enforcement against persons who are causing harm to other people with the proportionate use of existing powers rather than creating a new power that is open to misuse and is likely to be used against people who are vulnerable.

On begging

Including begging in the PSPO will have the effect of criminalising vulnerable and destitute people and trapping them further within a cycle of deprivation. On the spot fines of £100 which can rise to £1000 and a criminal record will enmesh people within the criminal justice and court system at great cost to the public purse whilst doing nothing to address the complex array of reasons which lead people to beg in the first place. There are a wide range of existing powers which the police can already use to target people whose behaviour causes alarm, harassment and distress to other people as well as people begging. The police and council should target their limited resources to enforce against persons whose behaviour is causing identifiable harm to other people. Many who beg are doing so because they are destitute or have complex needs, mental health problems and/or addiction. Fining and criminalising people who are vulnerable risks exacerbating these issues. This should not be considered on the draft order.

On Chugging

The proposed wording for this part of the PSPO is far too vague and ill-defined and drags activities and behaviours that are not harmful into the realm of the criminal law. There are existing powers that can be used to target any chuggers whose behaviour causes alarm, harassment or distress to any person or is any other way unlawful. The proposed PSPO would have the effect of criminalising people’s livelihood on grounds that have the potential to be completely spurious.

On ‘legal highs’

A PSPO is the wrong legal mechanism to address this issue. The new legislation relating to legal highs outlaws the possession, distribution, sale and supply of legal highs in public places. The creation of a new ‘catch-all’ power in relation to this issue is not necessary and might risk people being criminalised/fined when they are not actually using legal highs. What tests, safeguards or procedures would be in place to ensure that there was evidence that a person was using a banned substance? How would this be proved? What safeguards would be in place to ensure that vulnerable persons received the interventions and treatment that they need? This PSPO risks criminalising already marginalised and vulnerable people.

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

95 Comments on "KSL Response to Newcastle PSPO proposal"

  • Tessa gray says

    Keep streets normal, like real life.

    • Yeah, while leading a ‘rich’ interior life, enriched by the ‘genius’ that is the ‘imagination’, tho’ of course this is rare.

      • Nb. One of the things I like about busking is the ‘discovery’ you soon make, on it becoming your ‘day-job’, that ‘life’ really is of the mind. That really there is nothing to ‘fear’, that you can ‘exist’ really well, quite happily, in what to some may appear as a pretty ‘surreal’, outer social orbit !.

        • Its also why I love tracking ( not literally i.e. wierdly ! ) but observing at a ‘social’ media distance, some of the London Buskers cos’ a few of them ‘really’ are carrying out some interesting ‘life’ expts. Learning how to live successfully & ’emotionally’ fully outside the ‘norm’. ( I identify because if not by ‘default’ this is how I also intentionally live ! )

          • Jazz Mino, The Ivy Mae et al, I love these women ! ( as I very much ‘love’ myself ! ).

          • Now I know what your thinking, stop it, cos honestly I do not mean it that way. I really ‘respect’ these London Girls ( & others like ’em ) ‘ cos’ of who they are, or perhaps more correctly, because of what they’re trying to be !

          • One ‘game’ ( human ‘error’ ! ) I’ve certainly learned to avoid here tho’, in the busking sense that is, the ‘notional’ sense. Yeah thats right, the ‘common’ game of ‘ Copycat ‘ ( otherwise known as Follow The Follower ! ).

  • Steve Nicholson says

    Stop criminalising desperation.
    I’ve stopped voting Labour over other issues and this does not help.

    • The ‘True’ Cause of Homlessness ( Out of the babes mouth )

      No, don’t vote Labour Steve. Tories are about to ‘process’ a white paper for parliament, their biggest policy thus far to deal with the issue that is the housing crisis. Twas discussed ( revealingly ) last night ( Sun Feb 7th ) on a late night political show on ITV, & eveb promises to offer greater rights to ‘renters’ etc ( as you’d expect rural ‘greenbelters’ etc don’t like it ! ).

      Q. Want to know the truth about ‘homelessness’ ? or at least why there is such a huge ‘housing’ shortage ? ( a ‘social’ fact openly admitted by Theresa Mays appointed Tory Housing Czar – name not included ? ). A. Well the beans was finally spilled by another guest on the show, yes Labour MP Caroline Flint, but only after the TV interviewer pressed on her she was Housing Minister once.

      Looking slightly embarrassed, uncomfortable even, put on the spot by this ‘surprise’ question, she blurbed out ( on the defensive, slightly panicky & in response to the controversial ‘topic’ of building on sacrosanct green-belt land ! ) wds to the effect of,

      ” The big house builders & developers are currently sitting on 250,000 plots that already have ‘planning’ permission. the reason they are lying ’empty’ ( a scandal ! ) is because they ‘fear’ de-inflation of the housing market & shareholder values goint down ” ( Caroline Flint Labour MP )

      Arrgh now it all comes out, after all these years, the last 3 decades, including 3 terms of New Labour Government, the actual truth about what is indeed a ‘housing’ scandal.-At last out ( in full ‘commercial’ public mass media that is, albeit a ‘late’ Sun night politics show ! ). It also funny, rather uncanny, how post Brexit its a Tory Goverment proposing to at last ‘face’ the issue & put things right ! ( behind the scenes ‘sensitive’ discussions concerning ‘shareholders’ apparantly also underway ).

      What a surprise this ‘grand’ tho ironic ‘political’ turnaround involving both mainstream parties ( i.e. I remember Heseltines 80’s Environmental Bills & parliamentary measures in response to the then ‘moral’ panic about Squatters & ‘excessive’ Tenants rights etc ). The ‘surprise’ turn ( & ‘guilty’ panic ) also relates to the Labour Party of recent years.

      Afterall nevermind ‘housing’, Q. What did New Labour ever really do about The Railways, or fundamentally Education ?. They need to get another Labour MP on the show, to discuss this question eg. Dianne Abbot & put it to her. Problem is when called account & put on the spot, she has a tendency to turn foot & run away ( or at least ‘disappear’ into the corner of a room & hide ‘nervously’ in the corner! )

      • * Note (s)

        Talking about ‘homes’, homelessness & with reference to ( or in light of ! ) the ‘social’ cleansing going on in London at present ( incl. many Labour ‘controlled’ Wards complicity in this ‘insidious’ process ) I note that the Ivy Mae eg. ‘Model’ & ‘ambitious’ ( very, very ! ) Pop Singer ( See. above. ) is soon to release her first ‘single’ called ” Snakes & Ladders ”.

        Whats she as an Artiste plus any ‘fans’, casual listeners etc need to realise is ,that when it comes to the ‘game of life’ ( its ups & ‘downs’ ! ) some people like to play with ‘loaded’ dice. Oh yes & in this hyper fashion conscious ‘High’ Street consumer age you cd do well teaching this ‘wisdom’ to your kids ( i.e. along with the ‘birds’ & bees ! ) at the earliest possible age.

        • ( *See. ‘Snakes & Ladders’ the new single by the Ivy Mae. Out Soon ! )

          • ( *See. Chester ‘KSL’ Blog for further ‘related’ comment )

          • * Further Notes

            Yes you can either go ‘up’ the line or ‘down’ the line thats the ‘nature’ of trains. But when it comes to the Jewellry industry don’t let anyone convince you ( except with ‘hard’ evidence ) that theres a ‘nice’ way to extrapolate ‘gold’, precious gems & diamonds from source i.e. the worlds poorer regions such as Africa.

            No, a nasty business this, alot like the ‘arms’ trade & until the ‘world’ bank & the like ‘truly’ free up these ‘debt’ ridden ecomomies, giving them ‘honest’ bargaining power, no ‘real’ equality exists. ( Send in the ‘missionaires’ !. No actually don’t those scalphunters of the soul ! )

          • ( * Recommended Reading Eg. ” The Divide – A Brief Guide To Global Inequality ” by Anthropolgist Jason Hickel. Themes incl. ‘world’ economic policy control, the lies about Poverty, Radicalism & the world inequality machine )

          • With Ivy Maes most recent work fine ‘viewing’ E.g Paris Caberet ‘pics’ tho’ do See. S. France ‘Sea’ Haze en ‘location’ shots. Representing some of the most ‘artistically’ provocative & naturally scenically beautiful I’ve seen in a long time. A 1 + ! ).

          • Nb. Book word ‘captions’ are not mine )

          • * See. However the PR & ‘pre-launch’ to her soon to be released ( I presume ? ) Snakes & Ladders Video or rather the accompanying Ad ( i.e. Product Placement ! ) Campaign for VW Vans complete with Fleetwood Mac ‘jingle’ & to coincide with Annual Sept National Campers Van Festival, Malvern Hills Worcestershire. No not so ‘good’ methinks See. Swindon Blog comments. Anyway in the meantime just got home from ‘busking’ & so now for a ‘spot’ of Yoga & ‘natural’ relaxation ” OOHMMMM ! ” ).

          • [ * See. Prelaunch Ad Campaign for Volkswagon VW Camper Vans Eg. Fleetwood Macs ” Go Your Own Way ” by The IvyMae. Good advice Ivy I will do i.e. onward & steadily ‘upward’ !. ]

          • And towards a less woolly & more clear-headed sprirituality ]

          • I know what you’re thinking ha! ha! ha! & you’re so, so wrong, I say ‘here’ what I ‘literally’ mean ! ]

          • Anyway thats me, in the meantime ‘she’ needs a ‘new’ Campaign ( ‘Road’ ) Manager ! ].

          • In the ‘game’ of life, ‘timing’ is everything ].

          • ( Nb. Sorry for the rather long comment above & for ‘repeating’ myself a few times )

          • Bytheway when I speak of a ‘new’ spirituality for the 21st century rather than the 19th or the 20th. its not Calvinism that I have in mind. ‘ Viva la Revolution ! ‘ )

          • Plus a ‘raising’ of the ‘popular’ conscousness to the ‘illusion’ that its ‘hard work = ‘success’ ( Not to be ‘patronising’ of course since the ‘people’ already know this, well the bulk of them do anyway ! )).

          • [ * See. The IvyMae & the ‘post’ launch party for the BMW vi or is it iv or vv ? ]

          • ” The price of culture is a lie ” fr The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Du Bois ]

          • But then ‘glamour’ contrary to popular prejudice often does come ‘cheap’ ]

          • fr My Diary/ Journal ‘Reflections’ Sept 2017 ]

          • Plus theres the ‘jobs’, babies mouths to feed, whole communities to care for, thats right, ” now theres the rub ! ” ]

          • The road to the top in ‘reality’ a rather ‘murky’ world of celebrity & ‘status’ ? What, no! – A ‘real’ world of aspiration & ‘achievment’ & The IvyMae she not only walks the walk, talks the talk, she ‘wears the TShirt, so beware shes a ‘woman’ you cd fall in love with. If not her company is good ‘ole’ fashioned ‘honest’ fun eg. ‘fun’ on the beach, fun at the party, fun at the ball ( o.k latest ‘fashion’ show incl. tabloids, flashing lights & PR ! ) ]

          • ( * See. ” Snakes & Ladders ” by The IvyMae ‘new’ single out soon )

          • Gosh I’d better be careful what I say about those other critters ( media ‘establishment’ ) stood/sitting ‘hidden’ in the backround to this sorry ‘hierarchy’ i.e. the serious or ‘quality’ press. Lest I end up in a similar predicament to writers like Gore Vidal & e.g his ‘infamous’ relationship with The New York Times. Yes, along with William F Buckley, they were the best of enemies ! ).

          • Surprise, surprise you know they ( NYT ) never ‘postively ( N.b. ‘seriously’ ) ‘reviewed’ this fine ‘cultural’ commentator once ).

          • He still managed to climb the ladder tho’, still managed to journey on that ‘lg’ & perilous route to literary repute ! ).

          • * Snakes & Ladders ( or The ‘Rattle’ In The Tail )

            Check out The IvyMaes ‘new’ single out soon. Yeah, this promotional ‘chants’ got a rattle in the tail !.

          • * The IvyMaes Snakes & Ladders ( or The ‘Rattle’ In The Tail )

            Check out The IvyMaes ‘new’ single Eg. ” Snakes & Ladders ” out soon. Yeah, this promotional ‘chants’ got a rattle in the tail !.

            Nb. ‘Editied’ Version.

          • Again sorry this has been a rather long comment.

          • Tho’ not too ‘extreme’ I hope this pretty elaborate tho’ telling ‘paragraph’. So please note ‘Readers’ that this ‘radical’ little diatribe is not the reactionary endorsement of a ‘cruel’ fanatatic. Tho’ nor is it the ‘lazy’ ramblings of a ‘champagne’ Socialist, particularly those’ faux cosmopolitan types ( i.e. esp. ‘female’ ) from Shoreditch, London. The fashion ‘latch’ key generation ( i.e. no ‘key’ nor idea how to walk down a catwalk properly ! ) & dissonantly if not a little dysfunctionally ( i.e. crazily ) dressed with continental hair ( stylish ‘bob’ ), ‘fake’ crocodile skin handbags & ‘torn’ knee jeans ( often threatening to burst at the ‘crotch’ ! ).. Who if only for ‘appearances’ sake seem to spend their time – if not in a West end ‘Wine’ Bar looking to pull their next ‘itinerant’ tho’ in every other way ‘sensible’ boyfriend – on one life-long ( ‘eternal’ ) holiday i.e. on the beach ( having flown their by ‘Orange’ Jet ) even in Sept & at the ‘peak’ of London Fashion Week. Yeah ‘cool’ !. )

          • Recommended reading ( pick a ‘copy’ up at the ‘airport’ ) if not ‘Cosmicomics’ by Italo Calvino then ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens ( In ‘fact’ read this book on the return ‘flight’ back, the former after your ‘morning’ dip & sunbathing besides the Hotel ‘pool’ ! ).

          • ( * See. ‘ Snakes & Ladders ‘ the ‘new’ single by The IvyMae. Out soon ! )

          • Nb. Ok my ‘words’ are a little extreme here & perhaps a touch too ‘vitriolic’. In fact I’m thinking of ( having a little ‘snipe’ at ) London Busker Singer/Songwriter Jazz Mino here, who I mention above. #The Ivy Maes ‘nemesis’ ? I think not despite the ‘gossip’ ( & envy ) & no they’re ‘not’ appearing together in LFW it seems this year ( See. last years photo’s on Instagram etc. ). No instead Mino is away ( conveniently run away ? ) on holiday in Turkey at present.

            Anyway Londons such a ‘strange’ place at present, a ‘confused’ cultural situation it is. A place where ‘glamour’ is just as likely to turn up on the 15.38 from Waterloo as it is in a limosine or ‘Black’ Cab. And Jazz Mino ‘shes’ never been more ‘beautiful’ than in the recent ‘pic’ of her performing ( ‘natural’ ! ) on the London Tube during World Buskers Day i.e. wearing just a ‘plain’ pair of jeans, matching ‘jacket’, sneakers & a ‘smile’ !. ).

          • End – The rattles now in the tail )

          • E.g Jazz Mino The Special FX Photographers, The ‘graphic’ Artists Ursula Andress. Wow !. )

          • ( * A Prologue. Featuring ‘street’ music of the world E.g. ” Light In Babylon ” by Hinech Yafa in Istanbul. Her simply dressed in ‘fawn’ cardigan & matching Ali Baba pants. Enjoy ! ).

          • This little ‘video’ snippet of music & perhaps ‘hope’ for the future )).

  • Ria Ulleri says

    Well researched and rather shocking. This just targets the vulnerable it seems to me.

    • Talking about ‘vulnerable’ targets, Bhams city centre ‘controller’ appeared on New St ‘Valentines Day’ giving me spiel ( i.e.bogshite ! ) about the ‘new’ busking code, offering me a ‘copy’. I more or less told him to shove it up his ass, got no time for ‘politic’ that wishes to ‘alienate’ & now ‘scapegoat’ actual ‘regular’ performers. Yeah appalling, this little yet ‘prominant’ busking group ( incl myself ! ), offered ‘zero’ consultation or involvement by the city ‘council’ concerning any ‘new’ so called busking schemes !. In fact we were all deliberatley bypassed, so likewise I’m bypassing the ‘new’ code, & sticking by the law. Got any problems ? Well then see you in court !.

      • Nb. Where no doubt you’ll try & tar me with insubtantiated ( i.e. ‘manufactured’ ) complaints !.

        • On top of you ‘unfairly’ ( unjudiciously ! ), in full public glare, pressurising me on ‘the street’ with them !.

          • Whilst ignoring applicable busking ‘Law’ eg. The 2003 Entertainments Act !.

          • * Note

            Byetheway I’ve got no ‘problems’ with busking ‘codes’ as such, they can be the ‘solution’ to a lot of problems ( or should I say ‘address’ certain concerns raised by ‘interested’ parties ! ). But only as long as they’re worked out in good ‘faith’ & with ‘full’ & open participaton with the ‘regular’ buskers in a town or city. Involving not just supposed ‘acivist’ gps, The MU, & Officials with their ‘established’ agendas but the likes of ‘me’ too ie. not a ‘member’ of such gps & importantly recognising the impt livelihood ‘needs of some Buskers.

            ( See. London ‘Liberty’ Blog for ‘comments’ on Stratford upon Avons Busking Code & BID Interference )

  • Carol Stevens says

    Life is hard enough for any of these groups of people. Just leave them alone, give them a break and let us enjoy the entertainment what ever that might be. If you don’t like it move on.

    • Yes, Carol they should leave them alone & at least give them ‘reasaonble’ living if not ‘breathing’ space. I remember 2 or was it 3 years ago one Summer busking on the High St Birmingham. The city-centres ‘largest’ space by the way eg. Pan Pipe Players favourite spot, & today ‘dominated’ by Religious Groups with PA’s.

      Anyway I was happily set up, playing ‘classical’ guitar, eg. a ‘street’ romantic ‘spanish’ set of mine incl Asuturias , Alhambra, Malaguena, Popular Villa Lobos etc, when the city centre Bham Retail Manager on ‘passing’, decided to approach me ‘insisting’ I move my seating ‘position’, alter my ‘amp’ angle. play in a particular ‘spot’ etc i.e. attempting to what I can only describe as ‘micro’-manage’ me, & yes ‘unreasonably’.

      He was basically putting me on the spot in front of people & ‘picking’ on me, trying to humiliate me !. The guy ( still a city-centre manager See Below. ) clearly has both pathological ‘envy’ & control issues & to tell you the truth I for one am not going to put up with this kind of thing anymore, not from him or any other literally ‘office’ pygmy. Full stop !.

      • ( Nb. A few ‘case’ study examples eg. Christian Street Preachers, as messengers of peace ? A. Truth is these are some of the most ‘violent’ people you cd know !. Its not just a matter of ‘physical’, its the ‘psycological’ violence that strikes you here, as they ‘indiscriminantley’ assault Public passersbye through ‘amped’ up loudhalers. As for city-centre ‘officials’ I’ve personally experienced them more than is necessary ‘harrass’ not only Buskers, but Street People, Rough Sleeper too i.e. inflicting their own brand of ‘vicious’ officialdom on ‘innocent’ folk. Its also all noticably ‘one-way’ ( a one-way street ) so called civic ‘complaints’ processes as well ! ).

        • ( Nb. Plenty of offical ‘hypocrisy’ at play here for example take the ‘new’ 2 hr ‘guidlines’ incl Bhams busking code. As the ‘ole’ adage goes only a ‘fool’ wd slavishly adhere to just that i.e. ‘guidlines’, problem here is tho’ that they’re already being used by ‘officials’ eg. the city-centre controller, to beat street ‘performers’ like me on the head with.

          2hrs ‘revolving’ playing time per ‘spot’ may actually be a ‘useful’ code to adhere to in a small & busy ‘tourist’ town like Stratford upon Avon ( See. ‘comment’ under London ‘Liberty’ Blog ) but in a larger city ( 2nd city ) like Bham ‘need’nt’ necessarily apply i.e. even as a ‘guidline’. I speak from much ‘personal’ experience busking in the city -centre.

          A ‘limiting’ guideline like this may well ‘rationally’ ( & morally ) apply to particular loud & ‘aggressive’ street Singers ( See. ‘comment’ [bottom of page] 2nd Newcastle Blog ) & yes some ‘instrumentalists’ eg. ‘colleagues’ of his ( one who once tried to ‘bully’ me off a particular ‘spot’ ! ) with whom he practiced ‘sharing’ ( I’d say unfairly ‘dominating’ ) space via ‘mobile’ phone.

          The same ‘guideline’ surely should’nt apply to ‘good’ & decent ‘street’ performers who generally cause ‘no’ trouble, are generally ‘welcomed’ & are responsible for ‘creating’ nice ‘cafe’ atmosphere in ‘areas’ ( yes for 3hrs or 4 hrs at a time !.

          One problem for example ( as ‘commented’ elswhere ) I was ‘oppressed’ by an ‘official’ on Valentines day this year in Bham ( * never having ‘busking’ problems on the ‘spot’ before ! ) him waving ‘new’ guidelines at me.

          Totally ‘unfounded’ & unfair this ‘unwanted’ confrontation on Feb 14 & as a ‘regular’ Bham Busker deliberately ‘excluded’ from recent busking code ‘consultations’, one question I’d like to put is Q. What is the current ‘council’ policy on dealing with ‘Killjoys’ ?.

  • People are not generally on the steer because they have many options, and rather than expending man power to find and fine these individuals as a society with an element considered problematic would it not be more beneficial and produce a better long term solution to help these people out of the situation they find themselves in that has led to them begging on the street.
    To fine people who already have no money seems absurd, especially as many of these people will already be disillusioned with the systems and authority. This kind of behaviour will further alienate them from society, and give them more believe that they are living in a society that does not care about them.
    A society should be measured by how well it looks after its vunerable.
    Not all people can be interstates back into society with mental health and drug issues these people should be cared for as we care for our children and with a little love and support you may be amazed at the results.
    With hope yours sincerely Sophie McGrath

    • Trevor says

      I fully agree with your thoughtful comments, Sophie.
      Other (Labour) councils have found alternatives to this punitive proposed PSPO.
      Perhaps Newcastle could talk to them?
      If disorder is a real concern, then the drunken revellers evident every Thursday – Sunday night in the town should be the first to be targeted. How much is being spent policing these folk and treating the drunk and injured in A&E?
      Looks like double standards, to me!

      • Mmmm ‘double’ standards, cracking down on drunken revellers, I remember one time Democrat New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani being heavily criticised for his ‘conservative’ eg. 3 counts & you’re out, ‘policy’ back in the day.

        Despite the NYPD being highly successful in reducing ‘major’ crime by concentrating on making accountable ‘minor’ misdemenours incl. drunkeness in public, fouling on the streets, lewd behaviour etc Giuliani was given a rough time by the ‘liberal’ press ( bytheway I’m a liberal, a ‘progressive’, tho’ not always in agreement with ‘liberal’ ideology’s so called press! )

        I remember only 3 or 4 years ago in Birmingham when a similar ‘policy’ was under way ( with the ‘security’ to back it up ) & there was practically ‘zero’ trouble ‘anti-social’ behaviour in the city-centre compared to my ‘experiences’ today.

        Funny change maybe underfoot tho’ I spotted some ‘new’ street security operating in the city-centre only yesterday ( Sat 11 Feb 2017 ) & they were very effective ‘handling’ a drunken beggar harrassing passersbye. The exacerbating problem was he was blatanly ‘sniffing’ gas too as ‘folk’ ( incl. shoppers with kids ! ) passed by!.

        Its also uncanny how today, what with Donald Trumps most recent Executive Order Airport/ ‘Moslem’ Immigrant debacle, the so called USA ‘sanctuary’ cities & their ‘local’ authorities incl New York & the NYPD are recieving much praise ( & publicity ! ) from the same ‘liberal’ press for standing up to possible Presidential humanitarian ‘crimes’. By promising targeted immigrants ‘immunity’ from persecution in their poltical borough’s or states !.

        Q. The lesson ? A. Blue Collar, White Collar, ‘Street’ Crime whats the difference, unless its a genuine act of ‘desparation’ i.e an Oliver Twist scenario, no ‘double’ standards, or ‘false’ sentiment should apply. Those who target the weak & vulnerable whether its little ‘ole ladies & their purses or genuine ‘assylum’ immigrants fleeing ‘crisis’ & war or simply desiring relative political ‘freedom(s) should feel the full brunt of the ‘civilised’ law. Historically this is progress !. ( & bytheway I speak as someone with ‘no’ natural affinity with the police i.e. class, race or otherwise !. )

        • Nb.

          Which ‘begs’ the question, for example Q. would I have given the police a cup of tea like some I know, during the most recent London Riots? A. No, under the ‘circumstances’, never !.

          Q. How wd I feel if I got a ‘brick’ thru’ my window ? A. Anxious, but I’d not necessarily have ‘angst’ with Rioters, in fact I’d pass the expense on to my ‘greedy’ Landlord, its about time he did some ‘proper’ repairs, he’s ripping me off enough with the rent !.

          As for B’hams current ‘new’ busking policy ( a further new city centre ‘control’ initiative ) what a ‘pretentious’ document. Its ‘guidelines’ on vacating a spot after 2hrs may make ‘reasonable’ sense in a town like Stratford upon Avon, but in this city the stipulation ( again based on ‘experience’ ) is nonsense & an ‘unwanted’ pressure !.

          Also city centre management hypocrisy at play here eg. Street Preachers ( the ‘biggest’ problem – to ‘authorities’ & public alike ! ) are allowed to sermonise & ‘wail’ thru amped up loudhalers & PA’s all day on the High St unhindered !.

          • Furthermore theres the ‘fact’ that the recent busking ‘code’ was put together without ‘consulting’ the actual Buskers who generally play ( i.e. regularly ! ) in the city.

          • ( See. London ‘ Liberty’ Blog eg. the comment ” 2. London, New Years Eve, Fireworks ” [ 3 from bottom page ] for an ‘insight’ on Stratforward BIDs Manager ‘shenanigans’ in Shakespeareland eg. the ‘meddling’ with ( incl. the ‘quiet’ & subtle re-writing of ! ) the towns otherwise pretty decent & workable ‘busking’ code ).

  • Roger Hawkins says

    I value the street culture, make small but frequent donations to street musicians because they lift the spirits, and give cereal bars to people living on the street. I have no wish to see them made criminals.

    • I agree on the ‘#criminalising point but unfortunately ( & unfairly ) in my experience ( & ‘vantage’ point ) city/ town centre BIDs whether Newcastle or Birmingham seem to mostly ‘respond’ to the complaints of the ‘shopkeepers even when those ‘voices’ are predudical & relatively few

      ( Nb. you know ‘truth’ is not all shop management & staff are ‘nice’ people, even as a ‘customer’ I’ve found customer service wanting, you must have ‘experienced’ at times rudenenss, negative ‘attitude’ & poor till handling yourself ? ).

      Take Stratford upon Avon for instance, a place I know very well busking. Examples of ‘small’ town favouritism are rife ( blatant & startling at times ! ). I’ve come across 3 such cases at ‘street’ level & all involving the council & Bid & ‘choice’ local businesses in some way ( a tight ‘inner’ circle of power they are too ) Eg.

      1. A local Coffee’ Vendor was pressurised of Henley St ( ie. main high st ) following complaints from cafes in the vicinity to the local council via the town BID ‘Stratforward’. They wanted him removed for ‘undercutting’ their drinks prices, talk about a ‘free’ market, no such thing exists in the place.

      2. The Bubble Man & Son, both from Lincoln, regular Summer Workers/ Street Traders in the town ( ie. ‘camping’/caravaning thru the season ) were taken to ‘court’ last year by the Council for ‘trading’ illegally on the Bancroft Gardens i.e. the ‘open’ park area nr the River Avon.

      The fact they were ‘popular’ with ‘day-out’ w/c family’s & kids was conveniently ignored by council ‘officials’ who simply wanted them removed. One or two acting out of seeming ‘snobbery’ but it turning out that ‘money’ ( council ‘trading’ fees ) was a ‘key’ issue. Its seems other licence paying ‘businesses’ ( Riverboat, On the Park ) incl. one with a few thousand pounds 5 year council ‘contract’ had complained about the 2 police ‘licensed’ but non council ‘fee’ paying sole street-traders.

      The Council in the end ‘lost’ their case at Nuneaton Magistrates Court, having ‘wasted’ lots of money prosecuting ( persecuting ) them. The Bubble Man ( minus son, who’s just graduated as an ‘accountant’ from Hull University ) till trades on the Park.

      3. Buskers & Street Performers were themselves targeted a few years back on the ‘petty’ decisions of a few ‘officials’ in the town Council Dept for ‘removal’ from ‘performing’ on the Bancroft Gardens ( Nb. there’s been ‘street performing in the ‘park’ eg. actors, jugglers, musicians for decades ! ).

      The ‘council’ cynically issued a ‘notice’ to ‘all’ busking parties backed by an apparant ‘ancient’ byelaw that turned out later to be ‘fake’ i.e a ‘legal’ & over officously cobbled together document made up of actually 2 ‘old’ ( & outdated ) ‘byelaws’ going back to the 1870s & late 19th Century.

      Their ‘public’ order was invalid, & to this day, despite numerous ‘various’ attempts to officially thwart this ( Nb. the council have in the not too distant past already tried to ‘charge’ for performance in the area ), ‘Buskers’ still perform ‘freely’ in the park space & ‘arena’.

      • *Note

        Some ‘notes’ on ‘Small’ Town Politics, BIDs, & ‘Favouritism’ in Stratford upon Avon – The case of the Coffee Vendor plus 2 other examples’ ( see above. )

        • Plus an interesting ‘social’ fact on the Bubble Man ( life mkt trader/ peddlar ) & his now ‘graduate’ son. The father tho’ a traveller eg. Europe ( * Bulgaria last year ), Mediterranean, Africa, is an avid ‘Brexiteer’ whilst the son is now living with a ‘mixed’ race girl ( & fellow student ) in Hull where they both recently ‘studied’.

          They both ‘defended’ themselves i.e. no ‘professional’ legal representation in their case with Stratford Upon Avon ‘Town’ Council which they ‘won’ !.

          • * Correction [ edit ] – The son & his ‘partner’ ( girfriend ! ) are now working & ‘residing’ in Middlesbrough having studied there.

  • parick says

    There was a time when town councils were part of the fabric of the local area, they were not career politicians, albeit people with political persuasions, but they had at heart the community they served. The current Jobsworths with nothing more that power thirst are the blight of our country, if not every country on the planet. Part of every living communtity is its diversity of oddballs, drunks, colourful, eccentric and downright unfathomable individules. They make up the rich fabric of any community, and in their own special way, they contibute to our daily lives. Wether that be by example, endeavour, they have a lesson for us, and our children. If everything we do not like is sanitised out of our view, we lose valuable experience in lifes experience. As far as buskers are concerned, if people do not like them or their music, they will not pay them, ergo they will go away never to return, no officialdom required. Unless of course you are that officialdom and fear that loss of power wlll diminish you and your role in life, in which case you have already lost.

    • You know Parick in Birmingham many ‘council’ officials, BID Managers do not actually reside in the city, but live in the ‘plusher’ surrounding boroughs’ like Solihull, Sutton Coldfield, or further afield. In fact one of the reasons the 2nd city is becoming more & more a ‘decultured’ zone, centred around ‘naked’ consumer ‘mass’ culture is that the M/C have ‘left’ the place in droves & no longer have a ‘personal’ stake in the environment.

      Believe when I tell you that despite the ‘tourist’ blurb & PR Bham is a place of ‘zero’ Culture & more & more these days more an ’empty’ human space, devoid of ‘real’ creativiy or authentic ‘alternative’ living. The Mac Arts Centre, Edgbaston lost its ‘bohemian’ flavour a few years ago when after a million pound plus refurbishment the actual ‘bar & courtyard’ an ‘attraction’ for local ‘Mosleyites’ ( Moseley Bhams ‘Greenwhich village ) was deliberately designed out by paid ‘architects’ working for the ‘new’ South Asian Arts partnership & their ‘family’ only policy.

      Heritage Bournville trust housing has closed its housing waiting list, Cadbury’s is now owned by the USA asset stripper corporate giant ‘ Kraft ‘ Industries. Moseley like Camden in London, is now a ‘new’ development area, rents approaching London prices & has ‘effectively’ destroyed its unique post 60’s counter culture. The ‘world’ famous CCS dept at Bham university was ‘politically’ taken out a decade ago, so was the adjacent Bournbrooke House ‘extra’ mural dept, meaning that true serious ‘adult’ education no longer exists in the city. The Co-op in south Bham suburb Hall Green ( where I live ) has ‘abandoned’ the area to PoundSavers despite ‘local’ protests etc etc.

      The Council & ‘local’ councillors have ‘zilch’ connect with areas & neighbourhoods, Bham being the largest constituency in the country, I for one could’nt even tell you who my local representative is, like many I have an almost total sense of ‘alienation’ from politics & community ( & I’m a ‘natural’ communicator & socialiser ! ).

      As for ‘living’ standards I live above shops on a ‘high’ st, in substandard conditions ( i.e. place in a poor ‘state’ of disrepair ) with few if any truly ‘enforcable’ tenants rights. For the past 5 years between 5pm – 12 pm I have lived with ‘music’ from the downstairs restaurant, invading my space.

      During the day-time its Indian Pop from the ‘new’ Hairdressers, prior to this business ‘opening’, it was Bangla & Indian subcontinent ‘satellite’ tv all day from what was the ‘Estate Agents’ ( no ‘work’ seemingly being done, the guy just arrives in the morning & switches on the goggle box for viewing 6 or 7 hrs a day ). Eventually ‘closing’, going out of business due to ‘gambling’ debts ( eg. addiction to the Gee Gee’s ! )

      The local ‘council’ & councillors simply don’t care about the quality of life of ‘ordinary’ tenants, we’re simply not on their poltical ‘radar’, not in their ‘focus’ group. All they’re really concerned about is first of all ‘themselves’ of course & then secondly ‘protecting’ luxury, those who live in ‘expensive’ new development flats, the ‘professional’ rich, seeing to the wishes of Estate Agents, Property Developers & ‘Shareholders’ !.

      As for ‘iconic’ structures such as the Bull Ring, New Street Station facade, the latter is really a kind of ‘consumer’ Brothel, sounds harsh but its true i.e. on the ‘outside’ impressive, contemporary ‘architectural’ skin, luring in, enticing the Shopper, but on the inside ‘basic’, so empty, pleasurably disappointing like any ‘av’ USA Texan Shopping Mall. Same with the latter, the ‘new’ design of the main city-centre ‘train’ station jus that a ‘facade’, it too an ’empty’ contemporary ‘plastic’ veneer, hiding an ‘interior’ eg. dirty, dusty, ‘smelly’ rail platforms, that have’nt been refurbished since first built in the 1960’s !.

      Birmingham ( like in ‘truth’ many UK towns ) is run by essentially ‘philistines’, a type of tory ‘anti’ art establishment. In my ‘experience’ many so called ‘labour’ wards are just that i.e. in ‘reality’ to the ‘right’ e.g. Tory ( Nb. the ‘whole’ country is ‘practically’ to the right of the political spectrum & despite the phenomenom of UKIP, in real ‘neo’ liberal spirit, there is once more ‘zero’ connect with the ‘poor’, relative poor, & generally less well off !.)

      • * Note

        Despite all this, its a kind of ‘noble’ poverty that I’ve endured or should I say lived under the past few years. Yeah, when at home i.e. ‘not’ busking, taking in the beautiful ‘afternoon’ light in my living room. Leading a kind of new millenia, post-Christian ‘spiritual’ monastic life !.

        • Plus I’ve learned to ‘tolerate’ the music coming up from downstairs, I would’nt want to ‘shut’ the restaurant down, nor the hairdressers ( the ‘women’ working there are simply ‘expressing’ themsleves when playing music or ‘tv’ ).

          The only ‘real’ improvement wd come from better ‘sound’ floor insualtion & other ‘such’ audio technologies i.e. the sort of sound ‘insulation’ property devolopers should be ‘investing’ in with regards ‘new’ residential developments in the city centre.

          • ( Nb. As for the Estate Agents tho’ eg. ‘satellite’ Tv all day coming up from ‘downstairs’, that was just ‘sheer’ liberte taking & emotional abuse )

  • Undertakings were given in Parliament that PSPO’s would not be used for this purpose:


    • No they should’nt be used for this purposes. Heres a few good ‘examples’ to follow with regards tackling ‘social’ problems such as ‘homelessness’ & drug addiction etc.

      Eg. 1. ‘Thames Reach’ the London based homeless charity 2. The ‘Lifelines’ Organisation for help & support with drug addiction & abuse 3. Busking can be a ‘desparate’ source of income for some during the bad times, in fact it too can be a real ‘lifeline’ for ‘folk’ such as myself when the times are good.

      Don’t let ’em blindly &/or cruely take away the last few ‘lifelines’ that many people in our society only ‘truly’ have incl ‘begging’ in relatively ‘populous’ areas ( & it can be done without undue hassle ! ). Yes these may be all some people have got to keep them both afloat & ‘sane’ ( & ‘crime’ free of course ! ).

      • * Note

        Begging to my ‘knowledge’ is illegal but the ‘police’ can & ‘often’ do, out of ‘practicalities’, let it go eg. ‘ole’ school city-centre policing methods usually involved ‘moving’ on certain ‘individuals’ now & then when ‘conditions’ called for it & things threatened to get a little bit out of order. Yes, some people I know were ( & have been ) unfairly picked on but this was the ‘general’ practice.

        In the case of so-called ‘fraudulent’ begging ( or vicarious homelessness ) when ‘individuals’ pretend to to be living on the streets & ask passersbye for cash then simply let the ‘general’ public be more aware of this practice ( not via ‘media’ moral panic but proportionately so ) & then allow them to make their own on-the-spot judgements & ‘choice’, yes ‘trust’ them on that.

        Complaints of ‘harrassment’ at cash-points should be patiently ‘listened’ to & acknowledged but not ‘over-reacted’ to. Again ‘ole-school policing methods can suffice with ‘good’ communication & ‘civic’ managerial will. Ok, in some ‘extreme’ or grossly ‘persistant’ examples then ‘maybe’ let the ‘law’ take its natural course but again bearing in mind ‘social’ reality ( & context ) cautiously & judiciously. Only dealing with such ‘behaviour’ as criminal’ fraud in the last instance ( & of course with the ‘correct’ evidence ).

        No matter what the course of action tho’, for justice to prevail, I’d argue some ‘tolerance’ is necessary here, remembering that PSPO’s are not the ‘fair’ solution !.

  • A Smith says

    “The proposed PSPO is too wide in its scope and likely to criminalise behaviour and activities that are not, in and of themselves, harmful. The local authority should target enforcement against persons who are causing harm to other people with the proportionate use of existing powers rather than creating a new power that is open to misuse and is likely to be used against people who are vulnerable”…………

    …………..this is the perfect summary of what is needed, not the ridiculous,all-encompassing law being proposed.

    • Be careful busking affairs don’t end up like the current situation in Birmingham tho’ A. Smith. A once relatively ‘free’ & open city-centre public space is now threatening to become one of the most ‘oppressive’ places to street perform in the country. Check out the ‘new’ code put in place by Bham City Council set up ‘without’ consultation with most of the acutal ‘folk’ who busk in the city.

      Don’t be fooled by ‘rhetorical’ surfaces ( i.e typical local authority PR speak ) either it masks a pretty ‘dodgy’ ( & unfair ! ) process wherebye Buskers are now prone to ‘persecution’ by complaint ( potentially 5 long drawn out stages of it !. ). Please believe me when I say the ‘council’ ( central ‘operational’ control ! ) is already looking for ‘targets’ !.

      • Nb. Birmingham is bottom of the UK league table for Social Care i.e. on record for being the worst ‘provider’ in the country, so why should management of ‘public’ space be any better ?. Therefore don’t be too surprised when I say the ‘new’ system ( i.e city Busking code & its ‘processes’ ) is already being abused !.

        • Nb.2. Newcastle BEWARE !

          • Cos despite ‘surface’ changes ( & ‘new’ busking code ! ) theres a ‘lesson’ to be learned in the ‘old’ city centre management still being in place in Birmingham i.e. incl.. a ‘manager’ who believes busking is ‘anti-social’ & supported its city centre ban, & is now quite clearly looking for ‘scapegoats’ !.

          • Not that I wd let the actual new ‘code’ itself of the hook. Scrutinising ‘details’ it strikes me ‘intrinsically’ as one of the most misleading & actively ‘ divisive ‘ schemes I’ve yet to come across !.

          • Remember we’re not dealing with a city-centre ‘manager’ in Bham who believed busking with ‘amplification’ when used unreasonably eg. with deliberate, ‘callous’ & persisistant ‘excessive’ volume is ‘anti-social’ behaviour. No he supported a total & ‘complete’ busking ban regardless of circumstance or ‘condition’ ( & ‘personal’ livelihoods ! ).

          • In its current form I’m against the new ‘code’ & the spirit that threatens to ‘destroy’ ‘spontaneous’ ( & actual goodwilled ! ) busking in the city !.

          • I hope that this kind of ‘negative’ busking scenario doe’snt take ‘root’ elsewhere, or for your sakes in your ‘town’ or city ( oh yes the beware the ‘details ! ).

          • Whether they come out of ignorance & naievity, ‘active’ evil or both. Now see. ‘satirical’ comment below !.

          • Perhaps more fully aware that the ‘image’ of city life incl. Buskers, Busking, ‘new’ codes etc presented to you ( ‘ publicly’ promoted ) by ‘authorities’ such as Bham is at its core a ‘hollow’ illusion !.

  • On PSPO’s & Legal Highs ( a busking anecdote ! )

    On the issue of ‘illegal’ highs I don’t agree on the use of PSPO’s to control them, its not just a matter of the ‘ethics’, nor ‘legal’ utility here ( i.e. wd the measure practically work ? ) put simply as as a ‘state’ solution, this kind of ‘action’ wd pose a ‘serious’ political contradiction.

    As some ‘commentators’ have pointed out ( incl. a busking acqaintance of mine from B’ham who talked of a ‘cull’ conspiracy going on in not just in the prison system, but also on our ‘streets’ at present with regards the homeless & the use of legal’ narcotics ) ‘legal’ highs in themselves ( what with their very ‘legality’ & huge presence on the streets, in ‘penal’ institutions etc ) are the ‘control’ solution for ‘percieved’ social problems. Synthetically manufactured, widely distributed & easily available ‘highs’ in themselves are the ‘policy’ solution for the collapse of the Welfare State, antiquated ‘prison’ regimes, housing crisis, economic ‘austerity’ generally.

    Having spent the Summer busking largely in Stratford upon Avon I was shocked, ( literally ! ) on returning to Birmingham in Sept to find a ‘favourite’ busking area in the city ( Cherry St by Pidgeon Park & Church – the 2nd Cathedral, in the ‘commercial’ Banking District ) had horrifyingly turned into ‘The Jungle’ ( you know the ‘notorious’ Calais ‘immigrant’ camp in Northern France ! ).

    I really thought that the kind of ‘calamity’ that had plagued Lisbon, Portugal, 2 decades or so back ( eg. the 80’s, 90’s ) had finally hit Birmigham ie. a full on ‘Heroin’ epidemic was taking place in the town. By the gates of the Church lay strewn lines of ‘rough’ sleepers, what with their ‘holy’ sleeping bags, lying around on the concrete, gravel, & grass. Ok disturbingly some of them not just lying, but ‘crawling’ around, foaming at the mouth on the ground.

    As it turns out it was not a Heroin epidemic at all but something in some ways worse i.e. the ‘new’ homeless crisis that had manifest itself in the city0centre over the last 8 or 9 months ( reported ‘regularly’ on local tv, in the press ) combined with a ‘Mamba’ ( Spice ! ) i.e. legal ‘high’ epidemic. The whole decrepid scene being acted ‘out’ right in the open i.e. not a ‘blink’ from Police or Local Authorities. ( in fact ‘tv’ footage exists of ‘homeless’ sleeping on the steps of the Council House, the Art Gallery etc, yes a ‘common’ sight now ).

    Within a day of busking, I think a Tues, at approx1pmish in the afternoon, my first ‘witnessed’ Mamba incident took place. A guy in his 20’s just collapsed on the floor with the shakes, openly bursting into ‘fits’ on the street opposite. A crowd gathered, I called an ambulance, as it was arriving his ‘mates’ turned up on the scene to carry him off, shouting ‘ ‘he’s ok its just the Mamba!’. It was like a scene out of the horror movie The ‘Living Dead’, being acted out in broad daylight, during the ‘peak’ shopping hour, for everyone to see ( right out in front of you ). Yes a ‘full’ on Mamba ‘fit, apparantly a ‘now’ common spectacle, popular ‘lunchtime entertainment, ‘real-time’ cinema !.

    I’m used to these crazy drug induced ‘episodes’ now, it only takes a week to ‘adapt’. One incident occuring at least every other day, when out busking & right up until Christmas. In fact a ‘couple’ of days before last Xmas ( gosh gone so soon, New Years 2017 now in full swing ! ) a well known P/T ‘townie’ sleeper ( well I’ve known him for yrs, he’s homeless/ in Hostels continually on & off ! ) stopped by to chat while I was playing guitar. After 5 mins a ‘friend’ of his turned up & 3 mins later both ‘collapsed’ onto the ground. I pushed him on his side, a big ‘potential’ problem here is ‘breathing’ difficulties ( of which there have been related ‘deaths’ in Birmingham ).

    I rolled him on his side ( his ‘mate’ simple rolled over, collapsed in on himself! ) & he began predictably shaking, going into ‘fits’, & foaming at his mouth. Luckily the city-centre motorbike ‘Paramedic’ turned up ( they have their regular ‘breaks’ on Cherry Street also a ‘cafe’ area ) & I flagged him down. He ‘radioed’ in for an ambulance, & then in short-time the police turned up ( ‘armed’ police ! ). The situation ‘calmed’ itself, the 2 police officers keeping watch over the situation & he ( the Paramedic ) ‘picked’ up a cigarette butt dropped by one of the ‘Mamba’ victims on the floor, as they unceremoniously dived into their ‘drugs’ stupor.

    ( With ‘reference’ to a point raised in the Blog above Q. Want to know how to check whether someone is genuinely ‘drugged’ up or not ? ( i.e. get evidence ? ) A. Then simply rip open their ‘dropped’ cigarette butt, observe & see !. The Paramedic did, & as he ‘broke’ up the tiny cigarette’, pieces of tiny ‘grass’ petals of Mamba fell out ( visibly ‘whole’ ).

    Q. A further useful statistic ? A. He told me, who him & the Ambulance services are currently dealing with 4 or 5 ‘Mamba’ cases a day in Birmingham city-centre, at a cost to the NHS of approx £200 a time !.

    It was then that the ‘ambulance’ turned up & the guy I know was ‘carried’ away, his mate all of a sudden getting up, stumbling up to his feet ( him seemingly having gathered his senses. or at least in part, ) & then quietly shuttling away, I then returned to busking on the guitar, whilst waving the Paramedic away, who’d now recieved a ‘fresh’ call, to another job, whisking him away on his motorbike, to the other side of the city!.

    • *Note

      See. London Blogs for further related comments

      • * See. Bath Blogs too eg. ‘Bath Abbey Letter Against Buskers’.

        • * See Birmingham Blog i.e. the ‘very’ bottom comment eg. ‘An Artists Manifesto’.

          ( Nb. The Birmingham City Council, MU, Streetslive.org Alliance I for one am 100% against. Also take a look at how ‘local’ Beauracrats are trying to ‘steal’ peoples area ‘identity’ in other ways. Check out YouTube Video ” Save Hall Green From The Boundary Commission ” by Weareb28 Chair )

          • I speak ( or ‘comment’ ) as an ‘experienced’ jobbing Busker of 4 or 5 years now who is not a member of gps like Streetslive.org nor organisations like The MU. As a general ‘rule’ I’m against any busking scheme that either implicitly or ‘explicitly’ encourages the ‘selfish’ ( & ‘objectively’ unfair ) holding of ‘spots’ for ‘others’ whether ‘friends’ or eg. fellow ‘activist’ members, bullies etc. See. Other Newcastle Blog [Bottom Page]. This is avoiding in Stratford upon Avon & Chester where there is a ‘queueing’ system or should I say ‘consensus’ !.

            Ironically this kind of ‘bad’ practice runs counter to busking ‘values’ i.e. open & ‘free’ access to public space. No I will continue to ‘argue’ against such bad ‘things’ in street performing ( incl. the potential ‘conflicts’ ) whilst remaining in favour of ‘first come first serve ‘ every day. )

            ( See. Bham ‘new’ code ‘details’ on how its idea of ‘sharing’ space may in ‘reality’ lead to unfair discrimination, what with ‘some’ Buskers particularly targeted ).

  • ‘Meditations’ on politics, ‘activism’ & street performing in the uk

    Lesson. You know its good when in times of ‘bad’ politic Buskers try to come toether, help each other out, ‘support’ one another. In the process of getting ‘organised’ tho’ ( esp ‘formally’ ) be careful of inflicting on ‘others’ ( eg. individuals, folk of other towns etc ) your own ‘identity’ & brand, striving to avoid the common & very human ‘trap’ of dogmatic generalism.

    Be careful to avoid all pre-existing ‘civic’ cronyism in your negotiations & when ‘creating’ deals, you know its so easy to be drawn into & ‘corrupted’ by whats already there. Stay open to & listen to not just ‘immediate’ friends, members, impt ‘officials’ i.e. those inside the ‘power’ circle but also those on the ‘outside’ esp intelligent ‘outsiders’, don’t be put off ( be ‘overyly’ defensive ) by cry’s of ‘elitism’ etc.

    The reality is both morally ‘good’ & bad exist, so dont’ make the mistake of ‘heedlessly putting too much ungrounded ‘faith’ into the ‘bad’ whether driven by ‘belief’, self -defence mechanism or ‘guilt’ ( remember some sources of complaint are ‘real’, & ‘trash of the ‘human’ variety can & sometimes does exist i.e. & they are ‘guilty’ of nuisance & misdemeanor ! ).

    Having said that the ‘official’ control freak ( see Office Pygmy above * no offence to that proud & warrior like peoples of the West African interior, I don’t use the term here in the direct ‘colonial’ anthropological sense ) & ‘malignant’ complainer are a ‘marriage made in heaven & to be wary off. They ‘target’ & without mercy the unwary, the ‘innocent’ & The ‘good’.

    Eg. The ‘whinger’ makes his/her complaint & the puritanical ‘offical’ responds often in ‘disproportionate’ & characteristically punitive fashion. Often its the ‘good’ Busker( innocent person ) who ends up ‘victimised’ subject to the erroneous complaints of the miscreant complainer.

    Of course the whole drama ‘triangle’ ( game ) is reinforced when certain certain groups i.e. ‘organised’ Buskers get ‘political’ & fight back against this sort of thing i.e. 3 handed ‘game’. Problem occurs when, again very ‘humanly’ those involved get dragged in & too absorbed ( self absorbed ) in the process. Yes they get to meet the ‘powers’ that be, the politicans, the ‘managers’, & yes they get their deals etc but often at a price i.e again ‘cronyism’. ( see above & Bham busking code on ‘sharing’ spaces amongst ‘friends’ etc ).

    Coventry in Warickshire ( arguably once the most beautiful city in England ) introduced a £100 fine city-centre PSPO scheme yesterday Tues March 7 2017 ( yes remember this date, its a buskers 9/11 ! ) & is a ‘prime’ example of how local ‘crony’ politics, mixed up with ‘malignancy’, complacency & yes ‘some’ real social problems comes up with a ‘solution’ i.e. a very poor one ( bad ‘local’ policy ! ) that does’nt just tackle the root of the problem i.e. the bad, it undermines ( possibly ‘destroys’ ) the good in the ‘political’ process i.e in the proverbial phrase throws out the ‘baby’ ( i.e. the possiblility of decent public culture & street entertainment etc ) with the bathwater ( See. further ‘comment’ under Oxford Open Letter Blog on Coventry Telegraph story about the ‘new’ city-centre PSPO legislation ).

    The city-centre busking code framework based on 5 ‘offical’ 1hr spots means that ‘good’ musicians esp. instrumentalists, tho not soley ( i.e. those capable of & respsonible for creating true artistic ‘atmosphere’ in a place & not just ’30min, 40min ‘acoustic’ pop Buskers, on-the-hop penny whistles etc Nb. tho’ of course they have their place in a town & ‘rights’ to be fought for & upheld ! ) are no longer able to ply their ‘trade’ in the city. In fact many under these sort of draconian ‘conditions’ wd soon be put out of business ( my self included i.e. a self employed ‘regular’ in Stratford upon Avon ). Coventry is now effectively ‘barren’ soil ( dry, ‘dead’ earth ) from which ‘busking’ ( public culture ) can grow, in fact it now stands to wither & die.

    ( Nb. The point being ‘malignant’ complainers, draconian officials, guilty ‘trash’ ( i.e. they ‘drag’ everyone down ) win & the ‘good’, decent Busker, Public Musician loses i.e. is ‘driven’ out of town. The ‘music’ culture loving ‘Public’ lose in this ‘negative’ process ( ‘black magic roundabout’ ) too. So in the ‘long’ term may commerce, shops & business’s as well )

    Back to the issue of not just unfair ‘complaint, over officiousness, & street ‘social’ problems ( remember many ‘folk’ on the street are not ‘problems’ but victims of a kind of social ‘structural’ violence ! ) I point out this is where ‘complacency’ comes in. I ( first thing ! ) note that in Coventry these ‘new’ regulations were passed almost totally ‘unchallenged’, the most ‘vocal’ critics were the ‘cycling’ lobby ( public ‘cyclists’ also ‘targeted’ by this ‘new’ anti-social behaviour regulation ).

    I don’t busk in Coventry but know a ‘few’ people who do, but these Council ‘proposals’ were never mentioned to me either in conversation nor on passing, not even at Xmas ( i.e. some Cov buskers in Bham ), Not eve just after the November date when these ‘new’ PSPO ‘proposals’ were first put forward by council committee & made public.

    Now a ‘social’ reality its clear to me that if Buskers don’t truly work together & yes ‘country-wide’, across the Uk & beyond & thats not just as ‘in-gp activists, incl. folk up their own ass ( for want of a better phrase ! ) or ‘complacent’ individual perhaps ‘mal’ outsiders, then things can only get worse if not remain the same i.e ‘mediocre’ both busking wise & politically to say the least.

    I appeal to everyone, all Buskers, Street Performers, folk, ‘good’ folk, the ‘wise’ business class & ‘social’ entrapeneurs to find a more ‘open’ & inclusive way to come together politically, to ‘challenge’ ( pre-empt & defeat ) such measures, such a ‘negative’ way of doing business, ‘cultural’ business, ‘civics’.

    As a ‘rational’ intelligent being ( possibly slightly ‘flawed’ myself or more correctly as a ‘submerged, not fully realised, lacking ‘resources’ person not in a position to ‘dominate’ & lead in the ‘conventional’ party political way ) I’m sick of my kind of self conscious ‘conscientousness’ street performing being undermined by the ‘neurosis’ & irrationality of ‘others’, their stupidity, naievity & ignorance ( & I say this not as a ‘prig’ either, oh yes theres more than a few ‘priggish’ in the busking world & at ‘street’ level too ! ).

    I’m saying ” No ! ” to the beauracratic ‘control’ freaks, the ‘malignant’ complainers, the ‘guilty’ trash ( while defending the ‘real’ social victims incl the vulnerable ), & to all the up their own arse ‘activists’, in-gps, ‘alice’ in wonderland bubble clones & their ‘head’ drunk imaginary ‘circles’. More than anything else I emphatically emphasise my ‘right’ ( & ‘others’ ! ), as an aspiring, ‘growing’ human being, a ‘real’ public musician, a ‘true’ crowd pleaser to exist. ( Nb. I’d also like the wishes of the ‘vast’ majority of the General Public to be just that publicly ‘entertained, or to have at least the ‘possibility’ of it, now not ‘generally’ forthcoming in Coventry, when out shopping, at weekend leisure or what have you & yes without ‘necessarily’ troubling shops, offices. business’s when going about their business. Lets not treat the public like morons ! ).

    To paraphrase Black American Writer Maya Angelou, who in turn recites another ‘prize-winning’ american ‘male’ author of our ‘modern’ times ” My mission in life is to not only survive but to thrive & to do so with some passion, compassion & some humour & some style ! ”. As for myself I’ll swallow this sentiment & spirit but perhaps leaving out a little of the ‘passion’ & replacing it with grit, self discipline & most of all ‘purpose’. Now thats it, I’ve said what I’ve got to say, enough of the ‘motivational’ hype !.

    ( from ‘Meditations on politics, ‘activism’ & ‘street’ performing in the UK. See. Oxford An Open Letter Blog for ‘comment’ on Coventry Telegraph story about ‘new’ city centre PSPO Scheme & £100 fine regime, March 7 2017 )

    • * Notes ( Summary )

      Control freakery, malignant complaining, irrational ‘fears’ of the ‘other’, activist gp ‘self’ absorbtion ‘new’ busking codes in ‘reality’ manifestations of pretty nasty brand of cronysim’, all part of the ‘cancer’ now eating away at ‘busking’ as we once knew it. Well it certainly is the case in places like Birmingham, Stratford upon Avon, Oxford, Worcester & now Coventry ( complete busking franchise ‘shut-down’ ! ) tho maybe ‘not’ a few places up North like Leeds & Liverpool where ‘performers’ still appear very happy !.

      Ok ‘freedom’, creativity, sponteneity & busking was always a bit of a ‘myth’, take Bohemian Camden, London despite a brief few years respite before its final ‘shut-down’ last year via a draconian ‘licensing’ scheme ( ie. no one can get a licence ! ) was always ‘subject” to the ‘rules’ of the ‘capital’ city, always a tough & largely unwelcoming place for Buskers esp in the Underground where ‘regulars’ ( persisant ‘offenders’ ! ) were continually harrassed by police & fined for ‘tresspass’, begging, vagrancy & such things.

      Folk ‘adapt’ of course, well if not quite adapt, inscrutiatingly cow tow to the status quo as given eg. the ‘licenses’ & auditions, the 1hr booked ‘outdoors’ stages etc. Ok in some cases this kind of set-up, ‘restricted’ busking routine genuinely suits them eg. the 40min, 50min Pop Acts, the stage magicians & ‘acrobats’ with their ‘hourly’ shows, before stopping for a break to drink tea & scratch their balls!.

      For the rest of us tho’ the freaks & wierdos who don’t fit in, refuse to fit in ( ie. not those ‘classical’ dudes in tuxedos you tend to find ‘performing’ in Covent Garden ), the true ‘freedom’ lovers who without ‘guidance’ & advice manage to survive, thrive even with self contained ‘grace’ & good manners, in todays growing ‘reality’ ( super ‘shallow’ & hyper high st consumer age ) face a long, painful & excrutiatingly ‘slow’ death along with the culturally backwards towns ( offically ! ) that we up until now tend to ‘perform’ in .

      I’m thinking here of the actual ‘public’ musicians ‘current’ or aspiring, the ‘trained’ ( self ‘trained’ ) instrumentalists, the ‘good’ players capable of & responsible for the ‘good’ atmospheres in towns, poetically enhancing, romantically ‘lifting’ the mood in a city, a place & for ‘sustaining’ that beauty for longer than 60mins, perhaps for a 120, 180 or more. Yes threatened, very much in the ‘street’ sense with extinction, yes total petty ‘cultural’ annihilation.

      Eg. Worcester I note now on top of past ‘amp’ bans ( using an ‘antiquated’ local ‘radio’ law ) wants to introduce ‘spot’ restrictions of 45mins playing time i.e. sounding the ‘death’bell for ‘proper’ town musicians.

      In busking I’ve found ‘few’ friends tho ‘plenty’ of acquaintances, but the couple of ‘good’ busking pals I’ve got ( have met! ) are of the same ‘volition’ as me & we don’t aim to simply lay down & die, passively exterminated by city-centre controllers & ‘office’ pygmies of the sort you find in my home town of Birmingham. No, its Spring-time, the weekend, ‘pick=up’ & off in the car to pastures new, where of course ( given present realities ) I wd never ( I cd’nt ever ) tell you, but oh how luvley, how refreshingly romantic!.

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