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

York welcomes buskers with new guidance designed to promote harmony on the streets

York welcomes buskers with new guidance designed to promote harmony on the streets

York City Council have followed on from Liverpool to become the second major UK city to adopt new collaborative guidelines for busking. The Council worked closely with the local busking community, the Musician’s Union, the Keep Streets Live Campaign and local businesses to produce a document designed to encourage and welcome buskers from all over the world.

You can read an online version of ‘A Guide to Busking in York’ by clicking on the following link: A Guide to Busking in York-print artwork

Busking in York


‘A Guide to Busking in York’ is very different in tone and content from busking policies in many UK towns and cities, which all too often see busking as a potential problem to be managed and restricted, rather than as a grassroots cultural activity to be celebrated. York’s new approach recognises that the busking tradition is characterised by informality, spontaneity and democratic access to public space. The new guidelines replace a cumbersome and coercive regime where the local authority used to charge buskers for permits and hold auditions. Once upon a time, buskers without permits were moved on and many would-be performers were turned away because the system of obtaining a license and attending an audition put people off from coming to York to perform. Until an online petition was started by the Keep Streets Live Campaign. It was signed by over 4000 people and called on York to scrap their restrictive policy and work with the busking community to produce new guidance. The new guidelines are the result of that successful campaign and replaces the old permit and audition system.

Now, no ‘license’, ‘permit’ or audition is required to busk in York. Instead, ‘A Guide to Busking In York’ sets out some simple principles for buskers based upon common sense, consideration and good will. The guidance also sets out practical steps for resolving potential issues between buskers and others who share public space in the city before problems have a chance to escalate. This new approach safeguards spontaneity, whilst allowing appropriate action to be taken whenever issues do arise.



York have also taken the welcome step of publishing a condensed guidance document aimed specifically at city centre businesses and residents to help them resolve any busking-related issues amicably and to explain the busking guidance clearly. It asks those who may have an issue with a busking performance to politely speak to the busker themselves and reach a compromise before making a formal complaint. Most situations can be resolved in this way. For those that can’t be, a council officer will attend and assess the situation. If the busker is deemed to be at fault and the issue persists then the busker can ultimately face enforcement action but this will only ever be as a last resort. You can follow this link to see an online copy of the guidance document aimed at businesses: York Busking Guidance businesses – final

York’s new guidance for busking further enhances its deserved reputation as one of the UK’s leading cultural cities. Importantly, the new policy safeguards the spontaneity and informality that are key to the busking tradition, which will help to attract high quality busking acts from all over the world and animate the city’s streets. The new guidelines have removed unnecessary and costly bureaucracy and stand in direct contrast to regressive approaches in other places, such as: Camden’s coercive license regime and Oxford City Council’s ill-thought out proposals to use draconian ‘Public Space Protection Orders’ to criminalise ‘non-compliant’ buskers.

By drawing up busking guidance alongside the Musician’s Union, Equity, the Keep Streets Live Campaign, local buskers and businesses, York Council have pioneered a radically different, collaborative approach to the oversight of street culture, setting a high standard for cultural policy that other towns and cities in the UK and beyond would do well to follow.





Best Practice Busking Guides

Since our first success in Liverpool, we have now worked with several dozen UK councils to introduce best practice guidance for busking, applicable both to performers and the street side community of businesses and residents.

Our guidance is a system based on dialogue, mutual respect, and backed up with properly-used enforcement action where necessary. The approach is flexible, constructed involving all stakeholders, and can be adapted to suit the particular geographical and cultural needs of any given town or city.

You can find links to some of these below which can be used as reference for the specific locations, and also as a template for starting negotiations in the future.