An outbreak of common sense..

An outbreak of common sense..

“…it was a handful of businesses trying to unfairly make things harder for buskers. They (Trafford Council Executive Committee) were of the view that if there is a problem busker, it should be dealt with reasonably and proportionately on a case by case basis and that in the main, the buskers are a welcome addition to the town who make it an enjoyable place to shop and socialise.”-Helen Grant. Strategic Manager:Crime and Antisocial Behaviour.

In March, thanks to local media, we became aware of a consultation on busking in Altrincham, to the south of Manchester. At first we were not aware of the exact nature of the proposals but they certainly included measures that would make busking in the town problematic and considerably reduce its viability as a destination for street performers. In particular a suggested ban on amplification and a time limit of an hour on any pitch stood out as pernicious, unworkable and unnecessary.

A public online consultation did take place, closing on 6th April, which a number of our supporters completed. However, as we know from experience, these are often loaded in favour of a particular outcome or simply ignored if the desired outcome is not produced.Keep Streets Live also made a submission as an organisation outlining the work we had done in York, Carlisle, Chester and others and suggesting we try and work out something similar as an alternative.

Fortunately we found a sympathetic ear in Helen Grant, who had been charged with overseeing the project. I was able to arrange a meeting on 18th May. It was a warm day and town was busy, so it was perfect for a bit of a busk and a wander round to get an idea of footfall, potential pitches, issues etc. We looked at various parts of the proposals and I was able to show how firstly they would deter decent buskers in the first place and secondly how they were not practical solutions to the ‘problems’ that the town was apparently experiencing.In many cases they would have forced buskers to use locations which were actually less suitable and more likely to cause disruption.

We were able to make some profound changes to the proposed code over the next couple of weeks to the point that KSL was happy to give our approval. Job well done so we thought..

However today I’ve received an email that the whole thing is to be scrapped as the Executive Committee feels the only ‘problem’ is the businesses that have been complaining and all that is needed is some common sense applied on a case by case basis.





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

4 Comments on "An outbreak of common sense.."

  • Good work!

    And a great site – thank you.

    btw, my anti-virus software freaks out because apparently you’ve got some kind of certificate out of date for your site. I had to over-ride it’s dire predictions of instant hacking mayhem to come on. You may be losing others thanks to this.

  • Mirror Mirror On The Wall

    Funny in Birmingham the reverse is happening, the local council it seems are using new businesses ( ‘ new entrepreneurs’ as they’be been described by council planners, licence officers etc eg. High Street falafel outlets, hal lal beefburger joints placed by Marks & Spensers ) to drive out ( or subtlely, some wd say insidiuously replace ) existing ‘traditional’ traders in the city centre eg. family run hot potato wagons, mexican street food traders etc. Bad news for buskers too these new entrepreneurs, since they’re using rather loud generators to power their outlets, thus completeyly drowning out the immediate vicinity with horrible engine noise & of course killing the space for buskers like me.

    In fact just spoke to 2 of the remaining 52 street businesses once trading in Birmingham city centre & been told they’ve been continuously been given the run around by council officers. The Jacket Potato stall business told to move up the road from their usual space due to up & coming road works ( the council have spent the whole summer & early winter having Tram Tacks replaced on Birminghams Corporation Street, creating both public inconvenience, uproar & furore since the tram was only completed 5 or so years ago & major servicing is altready going on & yes at great cost ).

    The Mexican sole business trader ( very popular with office workers & who has just opened a complimentary shop with his son ) tell me they have just been instructed by council officers to face their business front the opposite way i.e. facia ( serving hatch ) pointing backwards & not facing the actual street, & yes for him a real inconveniance, indeed frustrating nuisance. The proprieter, a nice, decent guy, very creative with his food also told me that when they first opened the street wagon they personally had to remove street bollards at a cost of £ 4000 which they are now being told to return. Plus aside he reminded ( informed ) me that the current rules stated that loud generators were not to be used by Street Traders & that he & other established business folk have long used quieter ( very very quiet ) Honda generator. All this very costly action in line with the councils now ‘greener’ policy’s ( Nb. Recently i.e last summer, & sneaked in post-Covid vans pre 2010 have been banned from the city centre zone cos of so called engine pollution threats. Some of course have criticised this policy arguing that its mainly poorer drivers who cannot afford to own currently expensive ‘green’ engined vehicles who are being hit by new so called ‘green’ policy, its the poor instead of manufacurrers who are paying the price for supposed enironmental damage caused by old engines & old car technology. Of course the car ban is not outright since they ( i.e. poorer drivers ) are actually allowed into the city’s ‘green’ zone, for a small fee that is ie.£10 plus an hour ).

    Yes Birmingham & its madcap council policy’s, manipulative, exploitive & very very costly, yes a case of business attacking business in this upside down, crazy city. Busking quite anarchic too, the positive culture slowly but surely being driven out of the place.

    • Disclaimer

      I’m not a member or generally supporter of Streetslive. Always was against the ‘wrongheaded’ approach Jonny Walker took during his London ( Camden ) campaign. I disclaim comments posted under my name in a 2014 LiveMusicExchange article regards activism back then. I never wrote that comment.

      • Chester Bingley says

        Your comment is still posted on said blog, stating your clear opposition to Camden’s license. I’d be interested to know how exactly you feel KSL’s approach was ‘wrongheaded’ when you clearly held the same views as we did on licensing. I presume it was some question of strategy which I’d be very interested to hear you elaborate on. Maybe it would have been helpful to contribute your ideas at the time as I don’t remember you being involved in the campaign in any way, shape or form.

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