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Disharmony as city buskers are provoked by new rules

CCC regulations on live performances may result in police action

BUSKERS have staged a musical protest against rules governing street performances in Canterbury Musicians met on Thursday to voice their concerns over the ‘code of conduct’ introduced by Canterbury City Council (CCC).The rules mean that buskers could be issued with a Community Protection Order (CPO) if there are complaints about their performances. Local busker Josh Parnell claimed the council created its voluntary code – without asking the musicians for their views.

He said:

“It was really sudden — we weren’t consulted at all. One day, officers just came round and handed out the guidelines to everyone playing — these are the rules now. If local businesses are having a problem with us, we’d much rather they talk to us first. We’re reasonable people but, as it is, it jumps immediately to getting police officers involved.”

Fellow busker Jules Madjar said:

“It’s about making sure that people are informed and that anyone can talk to us before there’s an officer, and the threat of a CPU.”

Thursday’s protest was organised by Johnny Walker — a professional busker who runs the Keep Streets Live campaign – who said the guidelines were open to exploitation, and gave a false impression about Canterbury for buskers. He said:

“The one thing people have always told us is that they expect to hear music walking down the street in Canterbury. It’s part of the city. But if I was a busker and I didn’t know Canterbury and, thankfully, I do — I perform here regularly these guidelines and say ‘Whoa, no way – that’s too heavy’.”

Mr Walker said that, even though the council had not given out any CPOs since Introducing the guidelines in 2013, the fact that it could happen had created an atmosphere of hostility. He said:

“It turns a police community support officer from someone you’d tip your hat to and play for into someone who could potentially end your career. I could be warned, given a CPO, then given a criminal charge for violating that CPO, in the course of a single song.”

According to Mr Walker, CCC, which has always maintained that it welcomes all buskers to the city and supports local musicians, has been positive.
Since buskers set up a petition calling on it to take the criminal element out of busking in Canterbury

“they have been responsive, and we’re looking to open up a dialogue”.


Councillor Andrew Cook, the CCC’s executive member for enforcement, said the plan was only to use the legislation “as a last resort”. He said:

“We are absolutely clear that we welcome busking in the city centre and are keen to see good-quality acts performing here. On the fairly rare occasions there is a problem with busking we always try and resolve it by talking to those involved and asking them to change their behaviour. This approach Is usually successful and no enforcement action Is required.”

The buskers are expecting to meet CCC officials by early February.

Herne Bay Times, January 21st 2015

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