The Economic Voice: London Greens Select Busking Campaigner To Stand at May 2014 Elections

The Economic Voice: London Greens Select Busking Campaigner To Stand at May 2014 Elections

Published by on 21st February 2014.

See The Economic Voice’s article here.

Comedian Ben Van der Velde, a campaigner against Camden Council’s draconian busking policy, has been selected to stand for the Green Party in Camden Town with Primrose Hill ward in May’s local election.

Van der Velde will be challenging three ward councillors (two Labour, one Lib Dem) who all voted to introduce one of the harshest busking policies in modern UK history against Green opposition in November. Under Camden Council’s new scheme unlicensed buskers across the entire borough of Camden face a criminal record, fines of up to £1,000, the seizure of instruments in the streets and the forced sale of musical instruments to pay fines after 28 days.

Camden Council have elected to criminalise busking and turn otherwise law-abiding musicians into pariahs”, said Van der Velde. “It is a sad day when local government manages to legislate against the right to play music in public freely. Let buskers continue to help the public walk down the high street with a little swing in their step and a bop in their legs.”

Explaining his decision to stand as a Green candidate, Van der Velde, said:

The Green Party understands the diverse nature of modern life and the powerful force that diversity can be when correctly channeled. It’s emphasis on a society focused on improved equality and the cultivations of positive health, education and transport services for all, regardless of background, makes it the only true progressive party.”

Green Councillor Maya de Souza welcomed Van der Velde’s decision to stand:

Van der Velde and the Keep Streets Live Campaign to protect street performance is in step with the Green way of thinking which is very strongly supportive of creative and artistic activity and of allowing people as much freedom as possible to develop these aspects of themselves, and indeed to make a livelihood in this way.

Van der Velde’s selection comes ahead of a High Court hearing on February 27 and 28 of a legal challenge brought by the Keep Streets Live Campaign, which is asking a judge to quash the contentious policy.

Ham & High: Comedian To Stand Up To Busking Laws As Green Party Candidate

Ham & High: Comedian To Stand Up To Busking Laws As Green Party Candidate

Published by the Ham & High on February 19th 2014.

View the article on the Ham & High here.

A stand-up comedian opposed to Camden Council’s new busking licensing laws is hoping to be elected as a Green Party councillor in May’s elections.


Ben Van der Velde, 30, has been selected to stand for the Greens in Camden Town with Primrose Hill.

The Oxford University graduate, who has lived in Camden Town for four years, performs stand-up routines in clubs across the UK and appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe festival in 2012.

He felt compelled to stand as a councillor following Camden Council’s decision in November to introduce rules requiring buskers to purchase annual licences if they want to perform on the streets.

He said: “The first time I ever visited London on my own I headed straight for Camden Town – it’s a Mecca for music-lovers and young people the world over.

“I had an hour to kill before friends turned up so I got out my guitar and started playing – an innocent, creative and friendly act by a new kid in town.

“Thanks to the ludicrous new legislation put in place, if I did that now I’d be committing a criminal offence punishable by a £1,000 fine and the seizure of my guitar – unless I’d first bought a licence and waited 20 working days for a council panel to decide whether I was a ‘fit and proper person’ to busk!”

On February 27 and 28, busking campaigners will bring a judicial review of Camden Council’s licensing laws to the High Court.

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

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

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

View the London Evening Standard article here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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