Is busking allowed during lockdown?

Is busking allowed during lockdown?

“The law states that: “If you cannot work from home you should continue to travel to your workplace… You do not need to be classed as a critical worker to go to work if you cannot work from home.”

Our understanding is that, as long as a crowd is not being drawn and social distancing remains possible, busking is allowed under the current guidelines.

We would strongly encourage street performers to maintain social distancing and take measures to ensure their workplace is Covid-safe

IT IS NOT UNLAWFUL TO BUSK DURING LOCKDOWN

Below are some bite sized chunks of law and guidance to help you make things clear to those who challenge your right to work.

THE LAW (CORONAVIRUS REGULATIONS)

Restrictions on movement

6.—(1) During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse.

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1), a reasonable excuse includes the need

(f)to travel for the purposes of work or to provide voluntary or charitable services, where it is not reasonably possible for that person to work, or to provide those services, from the place where they are living;

GOVERNMENT GUIDANCE

If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay in your local area – unless it is necessary to go further, for example to go to work.

You can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home. This includes, but is not limited to, people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance.

You do not need to be classed as a critical worker to go to work if you cannot work from home.

You are allowed to stay overnight away from your home if you… require accommodation for work purposes or to provide voluntary services.

HOUSE OF COMMONS LIBRARY REPORT: ENFORCING RESTRICTIONS

The police have a range of powers they can use to enforce coronavirus restriction regulations. They can only use these powers in response to a public health need.

Differences between Government information and legal restrictions caused confusion about how the lockdown should be enforced… officers have sometimes (wrongly) enforced guidance rather than the law.

STAYING LOCAL: GUIDANCE NOT LAW EXPLAINED BY HUMBERSIDE ASSISTANT CHIEF CONSTABLE

You can travel from the other end of the country to Cleethorpes or wherever in our area so long as you have a reasonable excuse. Not being local is not a reason we can give an FPN for. Fact. You don’t need to be local so having to define it is not relevant.

The issue is, do you have a reasonable excuse for being out and that can apply to someone from Hull or Grimsby or Bradford or London.

There is a real difference in what you can and should do but as long as you have a reasonable excuse you are allowed to leave your house.

You can travel to where you want for exercise but whether it is wise… Doing something unwise doesn’t make it illegal.

Buskers Oppose Kensington Busking Bans

Buskers Oppose Kensington Busking Bans

Buskers’ group Keep Streets Live, along with the Musicians’ Union and Equity – have lodged a formal objection to Kensington & Chelsea’s draft Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO).

The restrictions in iconic locations such as South Kensington’s ‘Museum District’, Portobello Road and outside Harrods will profoundly affect street performance in the borough, and in our professional opinion turn it into a ‘no-go’ zone for busking.

According to David Webster from the Musicians’ Union:

“The MU has grave concerns over the imposition of PSPO’s as proposed by Kensington and Chelsea. The livelihood of buskers is under threat – There is a workable solution provided for in the Busk in London scheme developed by The Mayor’s office and we urge RBK&C to engage with that.”

Tim Clement-Jones, a Lib Dem peer and prominent live music campaigner, said:

“PSPO’s are completely disproportionate as a way of dealing with public nuisance and they have the effect of criminalising perfectly legal busking which adds so much to the life of our towns and cities”

Chester Bingley, Director of Keep Streets Live who are organizing the campaign against the ban added:

“Home Office guidance is clear that these Orders should not be used to prevent reasonable busking and/or other forms of street entertainment.

Keep Streets Live have offered to discuss alternatives to this crackdown. We have worked with many Local Authorities across the country to introduce systems of guidance that are based on dialogue between buskers, businesses and residents, common sense and co-operation, whilst supporting robust enforcement action when necessary.

The proposed PSPO will not only cause hardship to those who make a living performing in the area, but will substantially reduce its appeal as a vibrant tourist destination. “

The groups are planning a number of days of action (including music, leafleting, and a petition) to highlight the contents of the PSPO, raise awareness of its impact, and persuade RBKC that the proposal is both undesirable and unworkable.

RBKC PSPO Consultation is open until 7th June.

Keep Streets Live Official Response to Bournemouth PSPO Consultation

Keep Streets Live Official Response to Bournemouth PSPO Consultation

Keep Streets Live Campaign in Bournemouth

 

The Keep Streets Live Campaign has responded to the online Bournemouth consultation on whether to introduce a PSPO banning busking and skateboarding in large areas of the town. These proposals will make busking and skateboarding in Bournemouth a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £1000.  We think this proposal will have am enormously detrimental impact upon the grassroots cultural life of the town and risks criminalising vulnerable people unnecessarily. In summary we think that the proposals are a disproportionate response to problems caused by a minority of irresponsible individuals which can be adequately dealt with in other ways. You can participate in the online survey here: https://www.snapsurveys.com/wh/s.asp?k=150962689696

Please take ten minutes to give your views, they will help make a difference and give Bournemouth Borough Council an incentive to consider a different, more collaborative approach

We have provided our answers to the survey and our reasons here which you should feel free to use as a reference point:

How strongly do you agree or disagree that Bournemouth Town Centre experiences persistent and unreasonable behaviour caused by:

Skateboarding in certain areas of the town

Busking in certain area of the town

(Please tick one option per row)BournemouthBusker

Strongly Disagree

It is not busking or skateboarding that causes persistent and unreasonable behaviour, it is the actions of some individual buskers and skateboarders who behave irresponsibly and unreasonably. There is nothing intrinsic in busking or skateboarding as activities in public spaces that means that either activity should be subject to a PSPO. Instead there should be targeted and effective enforcement against the minority of individuals whose actions have a detrimental impact upon others rather than a blanket prohibition that will effectively criminalise the responsible and reasonable majority.

How much of an issue do you think the following behaviours in Bournemouth Town Centre are:

(Please tick one option per row)

Skateboarding in certain areas of the town

Busking in certain area of the town

Somewhat of an issue.

Clearly busking and skateboarding as activities have the potential to cause issues from time to time. They are part of the everyday life of towns and cities in the UK and, from time to time, people may have cause for complaint about the actions of individual buskers or skateboarders. It is not reasonable to expect that there should never be any issues with activities such as busking or skateboarding. Equally, they are activities that have the potential to bring enjoyment and vibrancy to the shared spaces of the town centre and it is difficult to see how a blanket ban using a PSPO will be helpful when existing enforcement powers can be effectively used to target the actions of an irresponsible minority.

How strongly do you agree or disagree that these behaviours should be regulated through a PSPO:

(Please tick one option per row)

Skateboarding in certain areas of the town

Busking in certain area of the town

Strongly Disagree

The problem with a PSPO when applied to activities like busking or skateboarding is that it creates a blanket criminal offence which criminalises behaviours which are not, in and of themselves harmful and are actually often beneficial to the cultural life of our towns and cities. A PSPO is a disproportionate response to the issues caused by a minority of individuals and will create a situation where unnecessary enforcement is carried out against individuals who are not causing any issues per se just because they are busking or skateboarding. A better approach would be to target enforcement against irresponsible and unreasonable behaviour using existing legislation without creating a blanket offence.

What conditions do you feel might be appropriate for skateboarding under a PSPO?
(Please tick one option)

None

What conditions do you feel might be appropriate for busking under a PSPO?

(Please tick one option)

None

How strongly do you agree or disagree with the proposed area (shown above) for the PSPOs?
(Please tick one option)

The proposed area covers a large portion of the town centre and would diminish the positive role that busking and skateboarding can play in the life of the town centre by making it a criminal offence to engage in these activities in the defined area. Once again, the proposals are disproportionate to the issues caused by busking and skateboarding. Enforcement should be targeted against those individuals who cause a negative impact through their behaviour, not against the activity per se.

Are there any particular days, times or seasons when you feel that skateboarding is worse than at other times? (Please write in below)

The phrasing of this question assumes that skateboarding is intrinsically negative in its impact as an activity whilst overlooking that for many young people it is a social activity that brings enjoyment and can contribute to their well being. Having a code of practice that outlined expected standards of behaviour with enforcement for individuals who did not comply with the code would be an effective way of managing potential negative impacts without a blanket ban.

Are there any particular days, times or seasons when you feel that busking is worse than at other times?
(Please write in below)

Once again, the phrasing of the question assumes that busking is intrinsically negative in its impact whilst overlooking the enormously positive role that busking can have in the everyday life of the town, regardless of day, time or season. Responsible and reasonable busking can have an all-year round positive impact on public spaces by bringing enjoyment to passersby, adding colour and vibrancy to shared spaces, creating a sense of urban community and providing opportunities for young people to gain performing experience in public at a time when live music venues are closing. Irresponsible and unreasonable buskers can be dealt with using existing legislation without the introduction of a blanket ban which will affect everybody, including those who are behaving reasonably.

What impact, if any, would a PSPO to regulate these behaviours have upon you?
(Please tick one option)

A negative impact

Are there any alternatives that you think we should consider? If so, please provide details below:

The council should work alongside the busking and skateboarding community as well as local residents and businesses to agree a common approach to the oversight of busking and skateboarding which does not involve the introduction of a PSPO creating a blanket criminal offence but does clearly set out expected standards of behaviour and the consequences of not following these standards using existing legislation. Birmingham City Council were considering a PSPO which would have banned amplification and ‘loud’ busking across the city centre. After working with the Keep Streets Live Campaign and the Musician’s Union alongside local businesses and residents the council re-evaluated their proposal and abandoned the PSPO. They then worked alongside the busking community to introduce a code of practice which set out clearly the expected standards of behaviours for all who busk in Birmingham with clear consequences for those who fail to abide by the guidance. The approach has proved effective with warning letters given out to those who breach the code in the first instance and targeted enforcement carried out against a minority of individuals who have caused issues. A similar approach could work well in Bournemouth and would have the benefit of targeting problematic performers without criminalising the activity per se and thereby having a hugely negative impact on those who behave responsibly and reasonably.

Are there any other comments you would like to make relating to this consultation?

This consultation does not seem to have given adequate weight to the social benefits of busking and skateboarding as activities in shared public spaces and in its wording seems to imply an assumption that these activities are almost wholly negative in their impact. Busking is an important part of the grassroots cultural life of the town and limiting or criminalising it using a PSPO will have a negative impact on the lives of many responsible buskers whilst also diminishing the enjoyment of the shared spaces of the city for visitors and residents alike.

The main problem with a PSPO is that it creates a blanket criminal offence which does not distinguish between responsible and reasonable behaviour and assumes that busking and skateboarding are intrinsically negative in their impact when, in fact, both activities have enormous potential to have a positive impact. A PSPO is a disproportionate response to the issues caused by a minority of performers which can be effectively addressed using an alternative approach.

Jonny Walker

Founding director of the Keep Streets Live Campaign, an organisation which campaigns for public spaces which are open to informal offerings of art and music.