Protect Civic Freedoms – Complete the Doncaster PSPO Consultation

Protect Civic Freedoms – Complete the Doncaster PSPO Consultation

Sign the petition against Doncaster’s Public Space Protection Order proposals which could see highly vulnerable people criminalised and bans on busking and even ‘being likely to cause annoyance’

Please take 10 minutes to complete this online consultation on Doncaster Council’s proposals to introduce a town centre PSPO that will affect cultural activities such as busking, criminalise highly vulnerable people and introduce nebulous new criminal offences. The Keep Streets Live Campaign has completed the online consultation and provided our answers to why we are opposing this PSPO. Please feel free to use our answers as a reference:


1. Requesting money, donations or goods including through placing of hats, clothing or containers.

This should be prohibited

This should not be prohibited

Don’t know

No comment to make

Additional comments

This prohibition would, perhaps unintentionally, have the effect of criminalising buskers who traditionally put out a hat, musical instrument case or similar to receive donations for performing music. Doncaster is well known for its vibrant cultural scene and is popular with buskers. The wording of this prohibition is too wide and should be changed so it doesn’t criminalise a grassroots cultural activity that brings vibrancy to the city centre.

Additionally this proposal criminalises vulnerable and destitute people who will have no means of paying punitive fines which will drag them into the criminal justice system. The police already have powers to target people for begging and can use their discretion to target people who use intimidation or aggressiveness rather than people who sit passively collecting with a container without causing harm to other people. Instead of introducing this general and wide-ranging prohibition the council and police should target those whose behaviour is causing specific harm to others.

2. Loitering around pay machines (including banks, supermarkets) unless waiting to legitimately use them.

This should be prohibited

This should not be prohibited

Don’t know

No comment to make

Additional comments?

This prohibition is too vague and wide-ranging in its scope. It allows people to be criminalised for a perceived ‘offence’ which might not occurred. A person may have a legitimate reason to be in the vicinity of a pay machine and yet fall foul of this prohibition because they are not waiting to use a machine. The prohibition creates a nebulous offence with a highly subjective element which is open to misuse and is too far-ranging.

3. Returning to the Town Centre within 24 hours after being requested to leave by an authorised officer due to them behaving in a manner causing or likely to cause harassment, alarm, distress, nuisance or annoyance.

This should be prohibited

This should not be prohibited

Don’t know

No comment to make

Additional comments?

Once again, the problem with this prohibition is that it brings a highly subjective element into the realm of criminal law. Causing alarm, harassment and distress to another person is already a criminal offence under existing powers which makes this prohibition unnecessary except that it also catches behaviour that causes or is likely to cause nuisance or annoyance, terms that have a very subjective element and could lead to people being banned from the town centre because in the subjective opinion of an authorised officer their behaviour was likely to cause ‘annoyance’. This is a wide-ranging power with a very low evidential threshold which is far too open to misuse.

4. Congregating in a group of three or more people and behave in a manner causing or likely to cause harassment, alarm, distress, nuisance or annoyance to any person within the Town Centre.

This should be prohibited

This should not be prohibited

Don’t know

No comment to make

Additional comments?

Once again this prohibition creates the potential for people to be criminalised because in the subjective opinion of an authorised officer their behaviour is seen as ‘likely’ to cause annoyance to any person. This is a nebulous prohibition which is far too open to misuse and could easily lead to a boisterous group of friends enjoying themselves being criminalised because someone found them to be likely to cause annoyance to any person even though their behaviour was not harmful in any way.

6. Ingest, inhale, inject, smoke or otherwise use intoxicating substances within the Town Centre or possess any item that can be used to assist in the taking of intoxicating substances.

This should be prohibited

This should not be prohibited

Dont know

No comment to make

Additional comments?

Once again this prohibition is too wide-ranging, catch-all and scattergun in its approach, particularly the clause that makes it a criminal offence to possess ANY item that can be used to assist in the taking of intoxicating substances. There are a wide range of innocuous, everyday items that can be used to assist in the taking of intoxicating substances and this prohibition criminalises people for possessing such items even if they are in no way being used to assist in the taking of substances. Also there is an inherent evidential difficulty involved in proving whether a substance is ‘intoxicating’ without proper testing prior to giving out on the spot fines.

7. Urinating or defecating other than in public toilets.

This should be prohibited

This should not be prohibited

Don’t know

No comment to make

Additional comments?

8. Camping or sleeping overnight with or without a tent, or using a vehicle, caravan or any other structure in a public place.

This should be prohibited

This should not be prohibited

Don’t know

No comment to make

Additional comments?


This prohibition targets highly vulnerable people including the homeless and the vulnerably-housed and creates an unnecessary and perverse criminal offence of ‘sleeping overnight’ in a public place. People sleep rough for a wide variety of reasons, many feel safer in the communal centre of a town than in certain hostels. It is inappropriate to create a criminal offence which has a disproportionately high impact on highly vulnerable people within the community. On the matter of tents and ‘any other structures’, once again the order is too wide ranging and potentially open to abuse to be helpful. Many people use structures or tents to take shelter from the elements and this prohibition could put vulnerable people at greater risk. This seems an entirely wrong-headed way of addressing the social complexities stemming from the rise in people who are homeless or vulnerably housed.

9. Making approaches to people with the intention of entering into any arrangements which involve people making future payments for the benefit of charity, access to credit or other purposes – unless authorised by the Council.

This should be prohibited

This should not be prohibited

Don’t know


Additional comments?

The prohibition creates a criminal offence where one does not need to exist. If the behaviour of certain fundraisers causes concerns it can be dealt with using existing powers rather than creating new criminal offence.

No comment to make

Additional comments?

The prohibition creates a criminal offence where one does not need to exist. If the behaviour of certain fundraisers causes concerns it can be dealt with using existing powers rather than creating new criminal offence.

10. Loitering, standing around, touch or interfere with any parking equipment, in the Town Centre.

This should be prohibited

This should not be prohibited

Don’t know

No comment to make

Additional comments?

This prohibition creates a nebulous offence which could effectively criminalise someone for waiting in line for a parking ticket or even standing (or loitering) near a parking machine. This prohibition creates the potential to criminalise people unintentionally and unnecessarily for innocuous reasons.

Do you have any other general comments to make?

Many of these prohibitions are too wide-ranging, poorly constructed and nebulous in effect because they often simply replicate existing powers but with a much lower evidential threshold.

These prohibitions catch behaviours that are themselves innocuous and too often target highly  vulnerable people. Of particular concern are the clauses that ban people from sleeping in the town centre with or without tents and the clause that effectively bans people from busking. The clauses that create effective banning orders for being perceived as likely to cause annoyance are very open to misuse.

The order should either be re-written in a way that makes it far less nebulous and far-reaching or else abandoned altogether.

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

28 Comments on "Protect Civic Freedoms – Complete the Doncaster PSPO Consultation"

  • On Doncasters Anti Social Behaviour Law Proposals & The Policing Of Public Space.

    The harrasment of ‘folk’ at cashpoints etc can be a problem but busking in itself is not necessarily wrong. I as a ‘free’ citizen wd like to retain the right to make an ‘informed’ ( or on the spot ) choice to give ‘money’ to whomever I see fit to give it to. Thats either in our city-centres or any other ‘public’ space in our liberal ‘democratic’ country.

    Police elswhere eg. Birmingham take a successfully fair & ‘open’ stance on this issue ( ok with a ‘some’ qualifications i.e. I have in a ‘few’ instances witnessed ‘homeless’ & buskers being maltreated ). Yes it is ‘illegal’ to beg but the ‘realities’ of the economy mean that it is only right that ‘begging’ or soliciting for money in public is dealt with in a sensitive, civilised & ‘balanced’ way & using existing ‘law’ & ‘moral’ powers if & when things do get out of hand. No no need at all for ‘draconian’ or should i say unnecessarily excessive ‘control’ measures.

    Byetheway I’m a Brummie lad & not from Yorkshire & here in the Midlands ‘homelessness’ for example is a ‘huge’ problem & very visible & yes at times ugly ( an ‘uncomfortable’ sight ! ). However it should’nt be merely brushed under the proverbial ‘urban’ carpet so to speak & ‘victims’ ( even those with ‘drugs’ difficulties ) further penalised & swept aside.

    The creation of ” a litany of nebulous & petty criminal offences….” ? ( See. Streetslive’s Change.Org Petition ” Stop Doncasters Law Against Everthing…” ) For me, a ‘regular’ Busker/ Street Performer & ‘growing’ guitar Artist, its a simple matter of its not worth losing our very ‘valuable’ general freedoms to this kind of local authority proposal esp. when other tried & tested police ‘nouse’ & solutions will effectively do.

    So I’m against any ‘moves’ by Doncaster Council to use such a poltically ‘overcontrolling’ approach. Not only does it feel ‘artificial’ ( i.e. ‘Political’ ! ), the cost of any kind of ‘Anti-Social Behaviour Law’ approach to handling essentially ‘fringe’ ( socially marginal ) behaviour ( & the ‘odd’ bad Busker ) is way too high. Esp. with regards the more important necessity of encouraging & supporting the ‘rational’ majority, the idea of serious ‘artistic’ creative human pursuit as expressed through ‘busking’ & the notion of ‘good’ public entertainment.

    ( * See further Comments under the Streets Live Petition ” Stop Doncasters Law Against Everything, Protect Buskers, Don’t Criminalise The Homeless ” )

    • * Notes ( A Case Study )

      I know there is some ‘reasonable’ concern about ‘crime’ rates going up in our town & city centres & the need for Local councils & various authorities to keep on top of it & importanly come up with the ‘right’ civic & public space policy. Here is a ‘case’ study on this very issue, where I emphasise the need to sweep aside ‘presumption’ & prejudice on this kind of problem, be aware of ‘vested’ interests on this matter, face ‘realities’ & create effective ‘human’ solutions.

      A Birmingham Street Performer ( once a ‘regular’ in the city-centre ) I had a ‘street’ guy apparantly fresh out of jail, sit dead opposite me & start sniffing glue, when I was out busking in the town a while back. He was definitely a ‘distraction’ & a hindering presence but was the ‘answer’ as part of some ‘general’ anti-social behaviour measure, to give him an ‘on-the-spot’ fine before moving him ?.

      No I’d say, what I was longing for in this sitution was an experienced ‘polic’ officer to arrive on the scene, spot the ‘difficulty’ & sensibly resolve the problem by confidently requesting him to move using appropriate ‘moral’ pressure & if necessary appropriate ‘legal’ authority. Afterall there was a penny ‘tin’whistler just up the way going about his ‘daily’ doings in a just & fair way, plus a ‘beggar’ up the road well mannered & not bothering ( ‘negatively’ intruding upon ) anybody. In fact in this situation – a common ‘reality’ – it was the Security Guard from the Jewellry Shop, he was sitting slumped in front of that finally confronted the scene & moved him on his way. I observed The police followed up & got onto him in another ‘spot’, much later. The right kind of civic ‘action’ using existing powers is all thats needed to stop crime rates going up.

      • * Further Notes ( A Case Study )

        In relation to the Doncaster proposals cited above on ‘imagining’ the not uncommon city-centre scenario described above ask yourself the following question Q. Would Anti Social Behaviur Law effectively & ‘fairly’ remedy this kind of situation ? A. It may ‘deter’ the glue sniffer after the act, but a ‘general’ ban order wd also effect not only myself but ‘unfairly’ the Penny Tin Whister & Beggar both of whom are not bothering anyone.

        I vouch for you the penny whistler can more than doodle on his instrument he can quite entertainingly, in the street sense, actually ‘play’, Plus both him & me ( a ‘solo’ street cafe guitarist ) can ‘busk’ relatively closely in the same vicinity together without unduly disturbing one another. When trouble does arise ( crop up ) in the street context what I find you really rely on is ‘Self’ assertiveness & ‘intuitive’ good city-centre policing of the ‘experienced’ sort i.e. that quickly picks up on a problem, rapidly reacts & effectively resolves it.

        This is what needs to be encouraged in our towns & cities, this is what needs to be further endorsed by our councils & ‘local’ authorities. That is quick, effective & ‘fair’ city-centre policing that works ‘for’ rather than necessarily ‘against’ what some call ( tho too ‘strong’ a word for me ) the ‘community’ of the streets i.e. both Buskers & ‘Street’ People.

        If you feel strongly that ‘real’ street performance is these days lacking or ‘does’nt’ today exist then why not support the ‘idea’ of it. Rather than back ‘policy’ that may ‘stifle’ or destroy it, why not really try to encourage the creation or ‘growth’ of good public entertainment.

        • * A Few More Notes ( A Case Study )

          We live in a ‘pluralistic’ society, made of various ‘social’ strata & specific interest groups. Policy generally should be designed to take into account all legitemante concerns & interests & I believe in a ‘liberal’ democracy councils etc are duty bound ot ‘fairly’ & in a rational balanced way consider the views of ‘all’ before any decisions are made.

          I state this again ‘street’ people & some Buskers often find themselves ‘excluded’ in the political process for no other reason than lack of adequate ‘resources’ or maybe not having ‘time’ or enough space. You know ‘survival’ can take up both all your ‘energy’ & time. Councils know this as do ‘vested’ interest & its relatively easy for them to shuttle thru’ certain measures that may detrimentally effect ‘marginal’ groups yet go unchallenged.

          So please support the ‘petition’ set up by that requests Doncaster Council do not proceed with proposals to use #Anti-Social Behaviour Law for the purpose of town centre management. As I have argued both Buskers & ‘Street’ People are ‘human’ beings with ‘rights’ too & their ‘interests’ ( yes even ‘begging’ if necessarily & done with some grace & manners ) ought to be tolerated. Buskers most definitely should be left ‘free’ ( within a reasonable busking ‘code’ ) to perform & go about, in some cases what amounts to their ‘jobs’ & professional livelihoods, without fear of persecution.

          • *Nb. Edit ‘Begging’ for eg. ” [ busking ] in itself is not necessarily wrong ” See. Above.

          • Some Beggars are clearly ‘blaggers’ & yes pulling a fast one but others may be in desparate need, & in that case begging acts as a necessary safety net. Those who lead a ‘penuary’ existence by ‘choice’ ( such is economic ‘reality’ ) their views & lifestyles ( albeit not the ‘norm’ ) , if our society is to remain ‘liberally’ democratic, need to be recognised by authorities ( i.e. managed ‘fairly’ ! ) & ‘decision’ makers too. The latter most importantly or should I say most properly drawn from a concerned, ‘informed’ & conscientous public spirit.

          • Yes sometimes the ‘visible’ defects of a ‘social’ system are best left seen rather than conveniently & ‘poltically’ swept aside. Keeps the need for a ‘true’ remedy in mind i.e. the ‘problem’ not forgotten & for the preservation & maintenance of a ‘healthy’ public conscousness that won’t let these issues be brushed aside. I believe on balance that with a ‘good’ enlightened public will & reasonable civic management ( alongside a ‘culture’ of individual responsiblily of course & ‘curtailed’ vested interest ) it is possible for ‘true’ social justice to occur. Yes both the state & the people are ‘key’ in creating the necessary ‘conditions’.

          • Again the use by ‘councils’ of Anti-Social Behaviour Law in the context of ‘public space’ policing & ‘management’ ( E.g. ‘targeting’ cash machine harrassment with these measures. Ones which won’t work in the lg. term, possibly causing unnecessary more ‘serious’ criminality in the short term. ) runs counter to all the ‘democratic’ principles of a ‘rational’ Just Society as ‘argued’ above.

          • ( * See.Below. Notes on The Liberal Democratic Jury System )

  • * On The Value Of Arts, Music & Street Culture

    I note much has been said about the ‘value’ of Arts, Music & Street Culture, a point some argue is overlooked by some local authorites & in council policy decision making’

    Yes I believe there is a lot of ‘pretension’ uttered around on this issue & that no not all Buskers are ‘good’ i.e. neither ‘talented’ nor well mannered. That said heres what via ‘personal’ experience ( & ‘good’ reading ) I’ve summarily got to say on the matter.

    Yes I agree with some of the sentiment that states the streets can be a great place to develop confidence as an Artist or musician & be a good ‘practice’ stepping stone to future ‘professional’ careers ( I add a great starting point for enthusastic & ‘gifted’ amateurs too ! )

    Of course I state the ‘opposite’ can be true with the ‘streets’ being a seductive ‘stage’ for those with less ‘noble’ ambitions & motivs ( yes ‘show-offs, & the like ! ) & ultimately leading to their demise & in some cases self/ &/or ‘external’ ‘destruction’.

    I personally see the streets ( or the road ) as a potential arena of ‘heightened’ spiritual activity & creativity & like the Gypsy the field of a whole area not only about survival ( &/or mere existence ) but of ‘personal’ transcendance & culture with a capital C.

    • * Note (s)

      A note of caution tho’ here ( or a ‘serious’ warning ) i.e. remember not everyone is necessarily ( or of the ordinary ‘human’ predeliction to be ) grateful for the ‘public’ charitable support that ‘is’ given them ( comes their way ) either whether in need or for when ‘entertainment’ services are to some extent ‘genuinely’ provided.

      In other words yes do ‘recognise’ talent when it presents itself, honest attempts at human ‘growth’ when it does exist, plus ‘real’ desparate poverty & homlessness on our streets but remain ‘vigilant’ as to whom you ‘give’ in the wider context. Since there are ‘characters’ ( very bad, ‘evil’ perhaps ? ) who will ‘exploit’ even the very ‘folk’ who try to save them.

      Eg. Whether thats cynically ( greedily or egotistically depending on your moral ‘perspective’ ? ) repackaging essentially ‘free’ self help material ( ‘the 12 steps’ ) into a ‘profitable’ book or actually ‘murdering’ the Mother & offspring of the ‘family’ that tried to help them ‘off’ the streets

      As I’ve ‘commented’ elswhere when it comes to ‘psychiatric’ couch ‘games’ & shennanigans the patient in a swift manouvre ( a ‘life’ one where after several years & taking only a few months, weeks even, a ‘miraculous’ cure takes place ! ) from ‘victim’ ( & seemingly persecuted ) to ‘saved’ ( eventually ‘rescuer’ themselves ) often successfully masks their own ‘desctructive’ responsibiliy in the process. With that ‘negative’ violent psychic energy being passed onto the ‘therapist’ before themselves ‘acting out’ their cure ( a process known as ‘transferrence’ See. Psychoanaltic Theory & Defence Mechanisms ).

      ( * See. ‘The Independant’ news story ” Homeless Man Pleads Guilty To Murder Of Mother And Son Who Saved Him From The Streets ”, Tues 3 Oct 2017 )

      • * Further Note (s)

        Since the formulation of ‘ Care In The Community’ Policy in the 199Os & the appearance of The Big Issue, its a truism that ‘homelessness’ has become increasingly ‘visible’ on our streets. I talk elswhere of the importance of ‘good’ policing ( i.e. ‘real’ Bobbys on the beat in our town & city-centres not just passing by in ‘patrol’ cars or worse still the law & ‘justice’ left to ‘council’ appointee wardens issuing ‘fines’ & tickets ). Just as ‘beneficial’ wd be a renewed look at the ‘role’ of social work & ‘mental’ health nursing & the like in our Society. Both professions are currently ‘overlooked’ with regards ‘street’ issues & in many places ‘seriously’ underfunded i.e. not ‘valued’.

        Speaking of places like Birmingham with the lowest league table standards in the country ( Nb. the public ‘message’ here for years was ‘Black’ men stop sleeping with yg ‘white’ girls, the ‘babies’ are a burden on the ‘tax’ payer ‘ See. Ads. ) this means ‘low’ morale & ultimately ‘poor’ &/or more ‘tragically’ neglectful performance. As an ‘ex’ support/project Worker working for a time in ‘Hostels’ in the 2nd city, this state of affairs too must change.

        • * A Few More Note(s)

          One more thing on the ‘theme’ of ingratitude & victimisation ( vicious ‘exploitation’ ) of the ‘good’ ( good will ) that does exist on our streets. Be very careful of not getting caught up in the kind of ‘game’ triangle I got caught up in ( unwittingly ‘drawn’ into ) not long back

          Eg. Being called in to ‘help’ someone out ( a working ‘street’ Guy ) involved in a rumpus in the city centre, only to be in plain ‘cowardly’ fashion, just as suddenly left in the lurch when the going gets ‘tough’ ( i.e. an actual ‘fight’ threatens to break out ).

          No, not quite Shakespeares ‘Corriolanus’ ( See. theme of ‘rash’ leadership ) but similar in that ‘here’ I was left to fend for myself in the front line ( the ‘original’ victim/ protagonist backing away ) when the going gets hot & all hell threatens to break out. Not a nice predicament to be left in, so be aware & avoid at all costs i.e. being ‘ pulled a fast one on ‘ like this.

  • * On Travels To Florence In Itally

    I’ve already responded to the various comments on expressing a concern about what the civically wrong, ‘misguided’ ( & I say frankly misleading ! ) use of Anti-Social Behaviour Law to manage the our towns & city centres will bring about.

    Yes ‘negative’ power will alway at the end of the road have the very same effect, I argue, bringing with it its own kind of ‘penuary’ i.e. poverty of the spirit if not ‘material’ life. I’ve recently checked out the ‘busking’ scene in Florence, Italy where the Russian trained classical guitars on Mecca there – a ‘cultural’ one, to one of the most beautfiul cities in Europe – certainly enrich the place. Its one of the most visited places on the planet, & where highly visible ‘street’ performers, throng along with the pieza’s & town squares & where cafe culture is a highly valued ‘resting’ place & very much a favourite with amongst both ‘shoppers’ & Tourists alike. Yes very ‘romantic’, in fact this kind of experience the very epitome of it !.

    Of course Doncaster that ‘large’ market town & ‘metropolitan’ Yorkshire borough is far from in reality ” quaint ” as I’ve heard the place ‘described’ ( descriptively alluded to ) in comment elsehwere. Plus Kitzch PR Tourist Marketing speak certainly does’nt have any attractions ( no a further ‘poltical’ distraction ) however culturally & ‘positviely’ E.g. Doncaster Uk can learn alot from places like Florence in Italy. ( Nb. this kind of learning has its ‘historical’ precedents going back to the days of Charlemagne ).

    Historically Florence as a place is a font of Western civilization ( & ‘wisdom’ ! ) where its long been recognised that ‘conspicous’ consumption, alongside the profits of a vested interested ‘few’, are actually ‘oiled’ by the wheels of ‘local’ art & culture. Yes places like not only Doncaster but Coventry, London, Birmingham etc cd all learn ( still stand to learn ) impt lessons of ‘local’ civics & governance like that. Yes and from the ‘enriching’ cultural ‘past’ preoccupatons & museum like ‘sites’ of the ‘grande’ Renaissance cities’ of Italy. Ok ‘trade’ is important but so is ‘beauty’, so is life !.

    • Note (s )

      Don’t forget what we are looking for here are ‘not’ ideal Models as such, to simply look up to, emulate, & ‘copy’. But rather, we desire for culturally ‘fine’ examples by which we more appropriately & ‘naturally’ as human beings, can be inspired !.

  • On Civic Victimisation, ‘Targeting’ & Scapegoating

    One ‘comment’ states on The Change.Org Petition that, ” Doncaster dmbc are nothing but victimising arse holes. Treat everybody like 2nd class citizens ”

    I’ve replied ” Yes the whole Anti Social Behaviour thing can be a huge political distraction ( or ‘crony’ manouvre ) away from ‘serious’ social problems & their more ‘honest’ & importantly ‘just’ remedy. Complainers esp. intelligent ones who don’t wish to join in with the ‘game’ will always be ‘targets’ & most definitley, if at all possible’, excluded from any ‘sham’ of a discusson process, not just by ‘councils’ & local authority’s but by other self important ‘Players’ ( i.e. not necessarily true democratic representatives ) such as the MU, Pressure Gps etc. ”.

    I go on to conclude how its a truism that in this kind of tragic ‘game’ Scapegoats are made & examples of the truly ‘good’ can be driven away from public debate. Elsewhere ( See. Oxford ‘Letters’ Blog ) on this website I cite words to the effect of eg.

    ” The ‘streets’ under threat of, if not direct ‘private’ ownership, the poltical takeover of othewise common space by ‘private’ interests, need to be preserved by the public ( an ‘interested’ public ). Let the public ( ‘all’ concerned ) not just ‘special’ interest gps be invited to the table to discuss &/or ‘argue’ over how that ‘open’ public space, in our city/ town centres is to be ‘justly’ used. The current ‘political’ process is a sham & quite undemocrati esp. locally, relying as it does on those simpoly ‘ in the know ‘ taking part. With powerful profit driven ‘interets’ having often ( tho’ unfairly ) a key ‘dominant’ say & ‘organised’ ( disporportionately ‘resourced’ ! ) pressure gps from outside of topical ‘areas’ fronting discussions ”.

    ( *Nb. This is what happened in Birmingham bytheway where Anti Social Behaviour Law was dropped as a ‘bad’ solution to the many ‘problems’ facing the 2nd city’s city centre. Despite the ‘general’ good outcome i.e. busking amplificaton ‘not’ banned from the city-centre, the whole political process was not only ‘bad’ for ‘decsion’ making I find, particularly in terms of the ‘local’ details, but for more ‘natural’ civic ‘esprit de corps’. )

    • Note (s )

      General ‘political’ activism is one thing & can be in many instances very commendable & laudable thing but in others all to sadly descends into its own kind or ‘brand’ ( using ‘contemporary’ common parlance ) of ‘authoritarian’ madness. For me a sorry game of ‘Follow The Follower’ ! ( *See. Newcastle Blog Comments )

      When it comes to ‘local’ detail & policy decision making such as the formulation of E.g local Busking codes I prefer dropping the ‘activism’ & adopting that other ‘tried’ & tested system as devised from Roman Law ( also Danelaw & a bit of The Norman French ) i.e something approaching ‘trial’ by Jury or ‘representative’ sample policy adjudicaton.

      • Further Note (s )

        This value i.e. ‘Justice’ plus a well financed, well trained, experienced & ‘in’touch Police force ( I don’t wish to see the return of a Praetorian Guard ) are whats needed in ‘our’ country to ‘protect’ ( & preserve for the Arts ) our public space. To do this in a more proportionate & civically ‘balanced’ manner would be the hallmark of Western Civilisation.

        • A Few More Notes (s )

          Its also worth remembering that there is a whole world culture outside of Europe to be discovered & gain artistic, ‘cultural’ insight & yes spiritual inspiration as a ‘street’ musician, arts afficianado, cultural guardian & simply good person from. Travelling albeit ‘vicariously’ From Russian thru’ Arab culture, from Africa to China & onwards to Japan, the ‘global’ regions where I’m currently deriving much influence & source pleasure from at the present.

          • ( *See. ” Light In Babylon Documentary ARTE in English ” YouTube )

          • ( You know in street terms ‘individual’ musicians careers both rise & fall plus various ‘bands’ they come & go, but ‘I’ for one will always speak out in general & on behalf of what ‘remains’, of the ‘free’ world ).

          • Pretty similar to many a ‘modern’ right wing military junta one might add. Regimes who even if they ‘do’ dismantle the trad. framework of religous institutions ( along with the estab. ‘democratic’ framework that got them in of course, unless they obtained power by ‘military’ coup & they often do ) tend to ‘substitute’ popular worship with some other brand of psychic ‘ritual’ & ego projection.

            A crazy situation its true, & a ‘vital’ distortion of ‘human’ reality this kind of politic but you know if the genuine ‘democratic’ wish of a people, to be kinda respected. The solution for the rest of us ( the sane ‘rational’ minority ) to simply just sit back & enjoy the ‘trip’. Cos thats what this type of socio/political situation must feel like eg. a 60’s style, hallucinogenic drug trip, that one day, you can nevertheless remain confident ( yeah ‘relax’ man ! ) that not only you but the whole country will eventually snap ( or miraculously wake up ) out of. No argument, campaigning, counter -rhetoric necessary ).

          • I was out busking the other day when some Jesus Freaks set up next to me, relatively ok ones, not the ‘loud’ haler variety but traditional ‘acoustic’ voice street preachers ( aka Hyde Park Corner types ). I enjoyed their presence actually despite all the ‘end of the world’ speeches etc, but I did get thinking what the country wd be like if this ‘bunch’ ever did get into power, you know completely take over. One word & one word only came straight to mind, at the mindblowing prospect, yes thats it ” Jesus Christ ! ”.

          • )),

          • An Ironic ( or Satirical ) Perspective ]

  • On the General Values & Principles of Busking ( or ‘Democratic Access’, ‘Informality’, & ‘ Spontaneity’ )

    An issue cropped up in Birmingham the other day ( I won’t detail it here ) over which I ended up to speaking to the Manager at the ‘local’ Big Issue Office.

    He raised ‘issues’ ( Nb. his personal ‘opinion’ not official Big Issue policy ) about Busking ‘freedoms’ in relation to ‘fixed’ Big Issue spots in the city centre, i.e. not directly but indirectly ( on the ‘defensive’ over a ‘complaint’ I was making, some ‘may’ say trying to ‘fob’ me off ) that this ‘new’ state of affairs was unfair. However during our brief telephone discussion he did manage to acknowledge some ‘key’ points of value I raised & i.e. from a Buskers perspective

    ( Nb. His starting point was that Busking should be brought into line with Big Issue public space contracts with the council & likewise practiced on ‘designated’ spots. I was concerned with such a standpoint, given that the 2nd city had recently changed its policy from ‘auditons’/spot bookings to the current ‘open’ space/’guidelines’ one. Now whilst I disagree with the way this ‘new’ busking policy was introduced i.e. excluding ‘voices’ like mine in the process, plus some of its details & other proposals, I stated that I was a strong believer in the essential ‘freedom’ of busking in principle ( i.e. thats what its all about ! ) tho also loose busking ‘code’ ( i.e. politically ‘neutral’ worded ones ) if & when necessary ( & according to my exprience ‘basic’ codes can be useful )

    Here are some of the ‘cross’ point principles I brought up & he ( The Big Issue Manager ) eventually agreed to

    1. Busking is a distinct culture from Big Issue Magazine Business & therefore by nature ‘spontaneous’, democratic in terms of ‘access’ to space & informal in terms of practice. Meaning that whilst Vendors ( many of them with past problems & emotional ‘issues’ etc ) do work best in line with ‘fixed’ spots in the city centre. By contrast ( & without unfair discrimination ) Buskers are justified in working along the lines of a ‘code’ & with ‘open’ access to perform in open public space. ( N.b. Of course Big Issue Sellers are ‘free’ to become Buskers & visa versa, again working within the ‘general’ value structures as they present themselves )

    2. He acknowledged the ‘personal’ accountability of Big Issue Sellers eg. they too should adhere to a city centre ethics or ‘codes’ as do Buskers ( often disproportionately pressured by both ‘authorities’ & police i.e. there is a set of ‘guidlines’ for Buskers operating in the city-centre but not for Religious ‘street’ preachers, Charity Sales People ‘ Chuggers’ eg. ‘street’ outfits that can be both ‘illmannered’, & rude in their respective fields of practice & causing unnecessary ‘conflict’ )

    3. He now recognised that under the ‘old’ Busking system ( regime ? ) in Birmingham the official ‘spots’ were forwarded & ‘allocated’ by the very same ‘Guy’ who selected Big Issue Spots when it began in the 1990’s ( Nb. Busking as a street ‘tradition’ as existed way longer than this ‘commercial’ magazine’ ). Lots of Street Performers I know have been very ‘critical’ about how the Big Issue seemed to have been allocated all the ‘best’ spots.

    My position I told him was that I cd live at present with the current arrangement which on balance works pretty well ( i.e. not perfectly ). However I as a ‘popular’ classical/streetCafe ‘solo’ guitarist naturally ( i.e. common sensibly ) do require access to key ‘Restaurant’ areas in the city centre which I’m happy to share with ‘other’ Vendors ( incidentaly whom up until the other day e.g. last Sat I have done for 5 or 6 years without any trouble, fuss or bother ).

    Again the Manager at the Big Issue Office agreed with me on this points & was ok with ‘my’ current busking practices, particularly ‘busking’ in the ‘restaurant’ vicinities in town. As are the ‘police’ who were called to deal with the incident ( not detailed here ) last Sat. Leaving me ( after ‘their’ judgement & analysis – a ‘good’ one I say in this instance ) to get on with busking in the space, ‘others’ left to ‘busk’/ sell papers elsewhere ( i.e. in line with the ‘usual’ practice just ‘down’ the road ).

    The debacle was ‘confusing’ ( & easily ‘misinterpreted’ by an ‘onlooker’ ) & thus a lesson on keeping out of ‘others’ altercations unless of course its more ‘reasonbley’ needed, & if things do ‘appear’ to get out of hand, & are perhaps a ‘true’ emergency. Then ‘intervene’ if you have to ( its your call ! ) with caution & ‘neutrality’ & most importantly as a ‘real’ Peacemaker until police arrive for statements etc ).

    My ‘real’ intention here other than ‘self’ justification ( & I was if I found my self dealing over the phone with ‘official’ policy rather than personal office/ ‘locker’ room wisdom, certainly going to ‘write’ to the Big Issue Head Office on the matter ) is to ‘detract’ from any notion that Big Issue Sellers are dealt with less favourably than Buskers under the current ‘new’ scheme’. Here I hope to further undermine any ‘resentement’ building here directly or just as important ( or more importantly ) currently ‘building’ up ‘indirectly’ ( perhaps more insidiously ) insitutionally i.e. at the Big Issue Office.

    I restate no I don’t agree with the ‘details’ of ‘guidlines’ of the new Bham Busking Scheme myself & was as ‘regular’ Busker in Bham ‘exluded’ from ‘process’ here but I do think ‘freedom’ & busking in general do go together ( more or less humanly, culturally & ‘naturally’ ! ) & that ‘open’ Street Performing along the lines of a light ‘code’ ( if necessary ? ) is ok i.e. something I personally ( reasonbly ) will go with.

    Hopefully the ‘matter’ ( an ‘issue’ there for any one or ‘democratic’ citizen to become aware of or take up ! ) is on the way to ‘rational’ solution ( or in the more ‘real’ human sense irrationally ‘safe’ resolution ). I’m certainly not going to allow the situation to develop into one where ‘I’ become the ‘scapegoat’ over such an issue, as I’m not going to be ‘driven’ out of the city-centre over other such concerns, whether they amount to ‘busking’ rivalries or emerge out of negative ‘poltical’ interest(s).

  • [ *See. Buskers ‘High’ Street Referenda, focus gp activity & ‘The Public’ point of view too. For example during last Sat’s debacle between ‘me’ & other Buskers over a ‘spot’ ( before the Big Issue Vendor invited himself into the ‘conversation’ ) one of these now ‘rival’ Buskers ( turning up after the event & ‘pre-judging’ matters ) tried to ‘humiliate’ me by throwing a £1 pound coin into my case, shouting, ” there you are if you’re desparate ”.

    However it bounced off & into the street, so I then ( rather than pridefully return it ) ‘picked’ it up, threw it into my case & announced very politely ” Thankyou ! ” ( me thinking to myself this will do as ‘compensation’ for the few times I’ve been driven from this ‘space’ having been ‘drowned’ out by these Guys ( or at least the one guy to ‘backing’ tapes performing extremely loudly on his amped up ‘electric’ guitar ).

    The public reaction to all this ? Well initially ‘folk’ just walking by when the ‘initial’ rumpus took place with the ‘first’ of the other Buskers ( yes people keeping out of it ). When the ‘conflict’ was over, ‘really’ over & the now 3 Buskers plus Big Issue guy had left the vicinity ( the now 3 other Buskers to a spot elsewhere in the city centre, the latter to his usual vending area just down the street by another restaurant & ‘chemist’ ! ), a very nice ‘kind’ person walked over from the cafe restaurant opposite where I was playing & dropped £ 10 in my case, thanking me for the now ” beautiful music ”

    You know ‘I’ get this more ‘positive’ response & public ‘feedback’ often & from many different people from various backgrounds & ‘all’ walks of life ]

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