2020 Directors’ Report

2020 Directors’ Report

Keep Streets Live Campaign (KSL) is a small, performer-led campaign organisation which advocates for public spaces which are open to informal offerings of art and music and opposes the criminalisation of street culture. Much of KSL’s work in recent years has centred on challenging the misuse of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) which are being used to criminalise a wide range of everyday activities. We are working alongside other groups like Liberty and the Manifesto Club to seek changes to this legislation. 


KSL grew out of a grassroots movement, and the not-for-profit company limited by guarantee was set up in December 2013 to support the work of the movement. Much of the day to day work of the company is undertaken in an unpaid capacity by professional buskers, supported by a board of volunteer Directors and a small number of other volunteers.


The pandemic dominated much of KSL’s work in 2020. During the year, we publicised the sections of the Coronavirus Act that supported the rights of buskers to continue working. KSL also published guidance for how to remain safe while busking, minimising the risk to both the performer and their audiences. Whenever we heard of councils harassing buskers who were performing safely and legally, we used this guidance as a way of explaining that buskers could continue to work.


Our meetings went online as opposed to in-person, while plans for workshops on busking open to all, similar to that which we ran in Manchester in 2019, were delayed on account of the restrictions in place. The same was true of a planned event to launch the successfully negotiated new guidance for Carlisle. We hope to move forward with more ‘live’ events as they become possible again.


A new page was set up on KSL social media, dedicated entirely to streaming videos of buskers performing online. Donations were encouraged, and this helped to increase the reach of KSL, as well as providing a vital platform for the buskers who got involved.


Other ongoing relationships continued:

  • Liverpool recently published new guidance for busking that avoided introducing any new legislation. KSL represented the interests of buskers throughout and played a key role in developing the guidance, which we feel is a victory for responsible busking.
  • The Westminster campaign picked up pace throughout 2020. Though ultimately unsuccessful in our goal of preventing the new licensing scheme, KSL have been instrumental in bringing together a coalition of street performers who have stood united against the proposals, and continue to fight the licence on the ground. The campaign received a good level of attention in the press, including stories in national publications such as Vice and the Telegraph, with involvement from celebrities such as Eddie Izzard.
  • Peterborough council removed the busking element to their PSPO after pressure from KSL and the local Green Party.
  • Chester Council remain actively engaged with KSL and are keen to put forward guidance that we are happy to put our name to.


KSL have also been involved with the ongoing organisation of concerts at Rainbow Junktion and Left Bank, both organisations with a strong sense of social consciousness and community, which fits nicely with the ethos of KSL.


Our focus in 2021 will be to continue advocating against the introduction of new legislation against buskers; resuming live events and workshops wherever possible; and campaigning against the increase in privately owned pseudo-public spaces as a way of preventing street performers from working.


Directors during 2020:

Weybourne Chester BINGLEY


David Michael Simon GRAY

Rev John Howard WALKER

Sarah Michele WALKER


York: KSL approves new guidance.

York: KSL approves new guidance.

City of York Council have launched their new busking guidance, in conjunction with Make It York, to ensure clarity and fairness for people when performing in York.

The guidelines highlight public and private spaces in popular busking locations, as well as considerations buskers should make when performing, including amplification which is prohibited between 9pm – 8am.

The busking document also addresses issues such as the offer of goods and services, volume and pitch of the performance, and advice for residents and businesses. 

Should performers fail to adhere to the guidelines or should a complaint be made by the public, a warning notice may be issued. Following the issue of a notice, should the busker fail to adhere, legal action can be taken by City of York Council.

Cllr Denise Craghill,Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods at City of York Council, said:“It’s clear to us that busking is of great value to our city and despite growing numbers, we get very few complaints escalated for enforcement. 

“However, it is important that when we do get complaints, we have a clear and fair way of dealing with problems such as excessive volume and obstruction to footpaths. 

“We look forward to working with Make It York and our busking community to ensure the street performances our city is well known for, are enjoyable for residents, businesses and visitors alike.” 

Chris Price, Head of City Centre and Markets at Make It York, said:“Busking is an important part of creating a vibrant, exciting and cosmopolitan atmosphere for residents, visitors and businesses in York.

“As a city we encourage busking and we want to welcome buskers from across the County and beyond, and will continue to work closely with the busking community as these new guidelines come into place.”

Chester Bingley from Keep Streets Live, a group representing the busking community said:“Keep Streets Live is happy to see that York is continuing its positive approach to busking and street entertainment.  

“The new guidance maintains the creative spirit whilst improving clarity, ensuring that responsible performers are made welcome and that York maintains its reputation as a vibrant cultural hub.” 

The guidance can be found on www.york.gov.uk/busking

Busking in Scotland

Busking in Scotland

We were recently contacted by The Times to discuss stories of clampdowns on busking in Scotland. We’ve already been campaigning in Edinburgh for some time, but there have apparently been worrying developments in Dundee where amplification has been banned and performance limited to three locations across the entire city.

KSL Director Chester Bingley quoted in The Times.

“We recognise some street performance can be disruptive but the way forward is to have structured communication with all parties to find workable solutions. Edinburgh council have chosen not to do this and have put up their own signs that have no basis in law. Choosing to perform in the streets is not illegal and has deep historic and cultural roots.”

The arbitrary rules introduced by Edinburgh and Dundee have no basis whatsoever in law. In fact, as Police Officers in Scotland already have extensive powers under Section 54 of the 1982 Civic Governance Act to stop any busker if they are giving ‘reasonable cause for annoyance’, they are also rendered utterly unnecessary. Councils already have every weapon they need to deal with any problems that arise on a case-by-case basis. These ‘rules’ merely serve to extend punishment to those who are causing no disturbance and facilitate the domination and control of public spaces by BIDs and local authorities.