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Exclusive: City U-turn urged over 'coercive' new busking rules

Online petition launched as support for performers' boycott is drummed up

Written by . Published on July 3rd 2012.


Exclusive: City U-turn urged over 'coercive' new busking rules

Jonny Walker


WITH less than a week to go until strict new rules are imposed on Liverpool's street performers, a musician who says his life was changed by his busking experiences is launching a fight-back. 

'By signing up to this policy performers
give tacit legitimacy to a policy that,
at root, is coercive and restrictive' 

Liverpool-born singer/songwriter Jonny Walker, 31, is taking to the city streets this week in a bid to strike a chord of a different kind. He is seeking public support for a petition against “a highly prescriptive and restrictive new licensing scheme”.

The busker is imploring Mayor Joe Anderson and city officials to think again, and is urging fellow entertainers to boycott the charter.

The new measures, revealed exclusively by Liverpool Confidential last month, will see all street entertainers forced to pay for permits and public liability insurance to perform on designated pitches, most of which must be booked in advance. 

And in perhaps the most controversial move, council officials and police will become civic Simon Cowells – with new powers to halt acts which they deem are not up to scratch. 

Street Entertainers LiverpoolBritain's Got Talent

Already buskers have been handed letters by city centre managers informing them that they are currently trespassing* - a move which London-based Walker - founder of the Association of Street Artists and Performers - describes as “using a whopping great sledgehammer to crack the proverbial nut”. 

But the city council insists that the new system will actually increase the number of pitches and provide a balance between buskers and other city centre users, with a spokesman telling Liverpool Confidential: “Its effect will not be to stop street entertainment but is intended to bring a better managed environment for performers, businesses and the public alike.” 

Indeed, the move will “delight” shoppers and stores, according to Liverpool's Business Improvement District which looks after the interests of major city centre retailers renting outside the Liverpool One zone. 

City BID boss Ged Gibbons says: "These measures will greatly enhance Liverpool's ability to attract the very best buskers and will add a new dimension to the visitors experience...Buskers themselves will benefit from a better regulated process...retailers and shoppers will be delighted the city has finally made this leap." 

Walker, who studied politics and had planned to become a barrister before before giving it all up to become a full-time busker 10 years ago, disagrees: “As someone who has had several meetings with the council to ask for my views about the new policy before it was put forward, and as drafter of a document for Liverpool city council that made substantial recommendations on how to better manage the street scene, I am very well placed to say that this new policy will not attract the best buskers to the city or add to the vibrancy of the streets. 

“The only dimension that will be added to the 'visitor experience' will be that of the major streets of Liverpool largely empty of street performers, with a scattering of pre-approved events at pre-approved peripheral locations.” 

Eastern Europe's got more talentEastern Europe's really got talent

In a letter to Mayor Anderson and Councillor Steve Munby, Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods, Walker urges a U-turn. 

“The policy has been written entirely from the perspective of seeing busking and street performance as a potential nuisance that needs to be tightly managed, controlled and regulated” he writes.

“But street performance is none of these things. It is a bell-mark of the cultural life of a city, it is part of the lifeblood of a place like Liverpool which has a deserved reputation as a European Capital of Culture. It is something that arises spontaneously, organically, it is a platform for emerging artists and it is an undoubted tourist attraction.” 

He adds: "I believe that the council has made a doubtlessly well-intentioned, but serious policy error.” 

Under the new rules, performers must be over 18 – which, says Walker - would have prohibited the likes of George Sampson – the street dancer who won Britain's Got Talent – from doing his show in Liverpool, or even George Harrison who was just 15 when he joined the Quarrymen. 

“Instead he would have been served a trespass notice and threatened with arrest."

Entertainers must also be eligible to work in the UK:  “Now the council is acting in the capacity of immigration service and border control as well as talent show judge," he remarked.

Street Entertainer Liverpool"Liverpool is a city of poets, musicians, renegades and misfits. There is a lively and varied street scene. Break-dancers, opera singers, mime artists, African drummers, Gypsy Bands, singer/songwriting acoustic strummers and squeeze-box players all play their parts in the interweaving tapestry of the city’s streets." 

It is because I care deeply about Liverpool, the city of my birth, that I have decided to launch this petition.  I am urging the council to reconsider this policy now, and get back to the drawing board with a policy that will not have such a negative impact and takes into account the interests of all the citizens of and visitors to Liverpool. "

A spokesman for the City BID said that buskers would be given a month to get their houses in order and the scheme would be closely monitored, but essentially it is council policy and the new regulations are not open to change. He added that performers could book slots on the Summer of Love bandstand in Williamson Square. 

But Walker said: "This policy is so restrictive that we would advise any street performer not to sign up to it. By signing up to this policy performers give tacit legitimacy to a policy that, at root, is coercive and restrictive. We would advise any potential street performers in Liverpool to join our campaign against this policy."

The City Council spokesman added: “While we will certainly consider what is being said in this e-petition we would point out that the new policy was agreed after a long and thorough consultation process which included city centre businesses, members of the public and street performers themselves. 

What is being implemented is standard practice in other major UK cities, including Manchester and London. There will be no auditions held before granting licenses.  The  City Council, Merseyside Police and City Centre Management Team have also  received petitions –as well as complaints from members of the public and businesses, protesting about buskers.”

The petition, which has attracted more than 500 signatures already, is here.

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154 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Jonathan WalkerJuly 3rd 2012.

I perform in Manchester and London regularly. Neither city has a policy like this one in place. Neither has a formal licensing scheme, instead, busking is allowed as long as there are no complaints.

I wish that Liverpool City Council would check their facts more thoroughly before rushing through a policy like this.

8 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

Well of course you know better than elected officials and professional administrators.

The Alpenhorn KidJuly 4th 2012.

Mr. Walker has a point.
The dope acting as Council spokesman doesn't seem to know the difference between licence (noun) and license (verb).

Lex LuthorJuly 5th 2012.

That's terrible when you consider that there are people with good brains rotting on the dole.

Sheez Garraticketter rah-hahhhdJuly 5th 2012.

"It is a bell-mark of the cultural life of a city, it is part of the lifeblood of a place like Liverpool"

What in God's name is a 'bell-mark'?

Sheez Garraticketter rah-hahhhdJuly 5th 2012.

Also, George Harrison might well have been 15 when he joined The Quarrymen but they didn't busk, certainly not in Liverpool where they'd have been moved along by the police. They performed in church halls, at garden fetes and in dance halls.

V. I. Lenin AirportJuly 6th 2012.

In those days people left school and went to work at 15. Only the privileged and the middle-classes around here went to art school.

And none could vote until they were 21.

AnonymousMarch 22nd 2013.

Actually has a scheme like this one so they aren't that unusual are they.

AnonymousMarch 22nd 2013.

Actually York has a scheme like this one so they aren't that unusual are they.

GJuly 3rd 2012.

I lived in Memphis, TN where the famous Bealle Street is completely controlled by the equivalent of a legitimized mafia. These types of regulations are basically the city's way of extracting "protection" money out of individual earners. It's as much about getting their cut as anything.

1 Response: Reply To This...
G StringerJuly 4th 2012.

we all gotta pay our dues man

Earache on Church StreetJuly 3rd 2012.

Where do we send our complaints then?

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 3rd 2012.

The department of sound control and joy reduction,
City Hall,
.com

Earache on Church StreetJuly 3rd 2012.

Liverpool doesn't have a 'City Hall' as we aren't yanks.

AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

It does have a sense of humour though, although it obviously passed you by!

Earache on Church StreetJuly 4th 2012.

Kindly elucidate. The success of a joke is in its delivery. Nothing funny there.

SaladDazeJuly 4th 2012.

We do have a 'city hall' if you watch all the mumbling luvvies in Blackout (BBC 1 Mondays). It seems to be located in India Buildings. Dead good film noir style (homage variously to Gilliam and Lang) but includes some awful tosh and far too much vodka drinking. You never see that in the Vernon Arms.

AnonymousJuly 3rd 2012.

Under the law, public demonstrations can take any form and are protected from any such prohibitive legislation as this. So my proposed solution for the city's musicians as a frequent busker myself is to CONTINUE to busk defiantly in form of a protest against the corporatisation of our living spaces. Btw --- donations can obviously be taken at a public demonstration.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

This would be a great form of protest, but I know the council intend to enforce this new policy aggressively using the police and the threat of prosecution for trespass. I would suggest getting legal advice to deal with whatever gets thrown at you. I salute your spirit of defiance, a victimless activity is not punishable and I doubt many police will have much appetite for prosecuting buskers at a time of stretched resources and police cuts.

SaladDazeJuly 4th 2012.

Try demos or selling papers or handing out leaflets in Liverpool One: the corporate police will try to stop you. But we are at the pont when mass action at Barclays (criminal conspiracy) and Virgin (robbing local health services) is ever more necessary.

SaladDazeJuly 4th 2012.

'at the point'. Pont was a bridge too far.

Mrs. BridgesJuly 4th 2012.

Very arch...

Charlotte ColemanJuly 4th 2012.

Street performance brings colour, energy and talent to otherwise generic city centres. Having seen and heard jonny walker perform in Leeds, city councils should not only be asking (or paying) him to perform in their cities but encouraging a new generation of performers to enjoy an open air space to cut their teeth and learn how to please an audience. If busking is regulated you will no longer have very young talent tentatively giving it a try. Part of our culture will be lost.

8 Responses: Reply To This...
Captain RiffJuly 4th 2012.

New generations of young performers don't "cut their teeth" busking the street! They perform to paying audiences in clubs and other proper venues. You live in some American rock'n'roll fantasy!

Next you'll be saying that they are 'paying their dues' or something else as absurdly cliched!

AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

"Part of our culture will be lost." Really?

In Leeds perhaps, it's not part of our culture around here.

Jonathan WalkerJuly 4th 2012.

Busking is not part of Liverpool's culture? Are you sure about that?

I don't think so.

AnonymousJuly 5th 2012.

Think what you like. I live here and I can testify that until recently there were no buskers in the main city centre shopping streets of Liverpool.
The first signs were the lady playing Mrs. Mills-style piano in Basnett Street for charity and the Alder Hey man with the foot-operated teddy bears outside the front doors of Marks & Spencers.

AnonymousJuly 5th 2012.

Jonathan you have my full support. Having seen you on the streets of Liverpool for the past 6 years I have witnessed first hand the profound effect that your music has had on people. Keep up the great work, you are an inspiring individual and our streets need you! Sarah

AnonymousJuly 5th 2012.

His fan club certainly does!

Charlotte ColemanJuly 6th 2012.

Captain riff you are the one living the fantasy. I don't see what this has to do with rock and roll America. Often young musicians and bands in England have to pay to perform in venues or with promoters and venues taking the ticket sales - therefore making no money.

Captain RiffJuly 9th 2012.

And your point is what exactly?

SaladDazeJuly 4th 2012.

The Duke of Devonshire is trespassing all day every day over huge stretches of the city centre. And now Peel Holdings plan to do the same. At the lower end of the scale transnational retailers and giant TV screens are allowed to blast pap and muzak over any innocent passer-by. When those scandals have been ended we might start to think about the quality of a few buskers who enliven the street scene and bring a bit of character to the corporate gloop. Get your priorities right, Liverpool: Bob Diamond presides over a criminal conspiracy destroying the lives of millions and gets a leaving bonus a trillion times bigger than the coins in the hat of a lad on Church Street.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
RojeansJuly 4th 2012.

Maybe we're on the same wavelength here

Jonathan WalkerJuly 4th 2012.

Well said.

AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

And they dodge paying their taxes too!

The Duke of WestminsterJuly 6th 2012.

The Duke of Devonshire you say?

RojeansJuly 4th 2012.

Out of interest is Liverpool one an 'adopted' area? are there unadopted streets nearby?
If not, LCC have no responsibility / authority over that land. Therefore L1/Grovenor would have to take thier own action, unless of course they see buskers as an attraction....just a thought.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan WalkerJuly 4th 2012.

Liverpool One have a busking scheme of their own. The council want people to join their scheme before they are allowed to go to Liverpool One, creating another bureaucratic hurdle for performers

AnonymousJuly 17th 2013.

"Another bureaucratic hurdle"? You don't pay rent, you don't pay rates, you don't pay insurance: you have a curious conception of a hurdle.

I'm a Muso, maaaan...July 4th 2012.

Cool!

AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

No sign of a U-turn here, just the rantings of a man you lives in Leeds.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan WalkerJuly 4th 2012.

Hello, 'Anonymous', does my current place of residency detract in any way from the substance of my points, or is this just a cheap attempt to appeal to a parochialist mind-set and imply that I am an 'outsider' with no right to an opinion? I was born in Liverpool and love the city, but even if I was a Mongolian lute player from Kentucky this would have zero relevance to whether my points were accurate or valid.

AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

Jonathan, you have not engaged with the substance of my point.

AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

Sorry -
No sign of a U-turn here, just the rantings of a man WHO lives in Leeds.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan WalkerJuly 4th 2012.

Play the ball not the man.

AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

Jonathan, you have still not engaged with the substance of my point.

BubbaJuly 4th 2012.

A Mongolian would be lynched in Kentucky, yes sirree!

Earache on Church StreetJuly 4th 2012.

Get rid of the ones with amplification and no musical talent. They give all buskers a bad name.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan WalkerJuly 4th 2012.

They don't give me a bad name. Let each man be judged on his own merits and not according to the prejudices imposed on a category of person he may or may not belong to.

AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

I dunno, I'd never heard of you at all until last night!

This whole 'protest' seems rather put-up and artificial.

Daley MayallJuly 4th 2012.

The headline is rather senstationalist.

It would be more accurate if it read 'Leeds Man writes letter to Liverpool City Council'

AnonymousJuly 9th 2012.

This campaign for cacophony is taking a rather sinister turn. Not only have I come across printed cards in public places but I have received an unsolicited e-mail urging me to sign a petition with no explanation of how they obtained my e-mail address.

Exactly who are the people behind this campaign, who is paying for it and where are they getting our confidential information?

AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

Where does all this whining about ancient fundamental rights being taken away come from? Buskers were always BANNED from Liverpool streets which is why they used to skulk in the subways under Lime Street.

I can only assume it was a fall in street maintenence standards from when the Lib-Dems wanted to fix it for their pals to blight Church Street with their shanty town of tatty stalls selling tacky rubbish that first allowed buskers to beg on the main shopping streets.

10 Responses: Reply To This...
RojeansJuly 4th 2012.

Tacky is big business now. 99p & Poundland to name two, but then the council receive rates so that's ok init....

Jonathan WalkerJuly 4th 2012.

'Anonymous'...Busking has never been banned because it does not constitute an offence against either the common or criminal law. To play an instrument or perform in public is an ancient tradtition that goes back to Ancient Greece. The tone of your comment betrays an ingrained prejudice against anything that does not meet your idea of what consitutes city life.

AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

Say what you like. I am born and bred here, still live here and until recently buskers were always moved along by the police.

Like other beggars.

AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

Rojeans said:
"Tacky is big business now. 99p & Poundland to name two, but then the council receive rates so that's ok init...."

Well normal, poor people have to pay rates too, so yes.
Why should they have to subsidise middle-class boys showing off their expensive guitars and amplifiers on prime public property?

Ancient Fish and ChipsJuly 4th 2012.

This isn't ancient Greece and have you never heard of by laws?
Liverpool has had one for a very long time compelling pub landlords to serve every drink in a clean glass rather than refilling your old one as elsewhere.

Kiron ReidJuly 6th 2012.

I'm sure the Council and police can invoke laws but the point is whether that is the kind of reputation that we want for Liverpool. Using law to get rid of bad buskers and assert Council & business control seems like overkill. Anonymous seems to have both authoritarian views on social control and rely on inverted snobbery which is disappointing.
Kiron Reid.

AnonymousJuly 6th 2012.

In this country Liverpool has had a terrible and mostly undeserved reputation since the 1970s. At last this is changing but greeting visitors and potential investors by having our main shopping street chaotically crowded with lousy buskers trying to drown each other out will do no-one any favours, least of all those of us who live and work here.

Kiron ReidJuly 6th 2012.

I'm sure the Council and police can invoke laws but the point is whether that is the kind of reputation that we want for Liverpool. Using law to get rid of bad buskers and assert Council & business control seems like overkill. Anonymous seems to have both authoritarian views on social control and rely on inverted snobbery which is disappointing.
Kiron Reid.

AnonymousJuly 6th 2012.

In this country Liverpool has had a terrible and mostly undeserved reputation since the 1970s. At last this is changing but greeting visitors and potential investors by having our main shopping street chaotically crowded with lousy buskers trying to drown each other out will do no-one any favours, least of all those of us who live and work here.

AnonymousJuly 6th 2012.

On the contrary, inverted snobbery is the reason for Liverpool's poor image for forty years.

SaladDazeJuly 4th 2012.

I'm getting my anonymii mixed up - apart from my not being able to spell the plural of 'anonymous' as a noun.

Pam GreenJuly 4th 2012.

the buskers in Liverpool add a unique, fun and upbeat character to a day out in the City. Locals and tourists alike love 'em, the people who don't can just walk by - no-one is pestered. Stop the chuggers who DO pester and leave the buskers who put a smile on the gloomiest faces!I live in a miserable little town outside Liverpool that never has buskers, but there was a charity c + w singer recently who made everyone seem cheerful and lifted spirits!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Sefton ParkerJuly 4th 2012.

Can't we send ours there?

The King of FunJuly 4th 2012.

If buskers do bring colour and bring a "fun and upbeat character to a day out in the city" then why don't they play where they are needed?
You know, Gillmoss, Norris Green, Garston, Huyton, Kirkby, etc.?

Pam GreenJuly 4th 2012.

If they do manage to ban our buskers lets all have random flash mobs - anything to keep the fun in these austere gloomy times - who agrees?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

"Our buskers"? You said above that you lived in a town that had none?

Nick WestJuly 4th 2012.

Sorry but I'd be pleased to see the back of them. Walking down Church Street onto Lord Street is hectic enough without having this (often) amplified dirge forced down your ears. It's noise pollution.

I especially feel for the poor sods who work in the nearby shops, most of which have wide open doors, who have to listen to it right through their working day.

It's oppressive, unpleasant and deprives the shopper of the much more pleasant sound of normal, ambient street noise. Please get rid.

6 Responses: Reply To This...
Darrell Doo-MeeJuly 4th 2012.

Too true Nick, nothing much wrong with acoustic content and the limited projection with natural sound, but those bloody squawkers with black boxes are a different thing altogether

Jonathan WalkerJuly 4th 2012.

One man's noise pollution is another man's music. I feel the force of both your arguments is diminshed by the fact that you tar every person who uses amplification with the same brush. I play finger style folk guitar and have a gentle singing voice. A 60 wat battery amp gives me a lift and enables me to create a small soundscape in the near vicinity to my pitch. And yes, my amp is in a black box. The point about shops is well made, but many of these shops blare out large and bland chart music on endless repeat that pours out of the needlessly open doors (along with CO2 intensive heat in winter time) and into the streets.
In starting this petition we hope that consideration for other people will be the foundation of any busking policy. Show consideration for shops, for other buskers and for passersby. But this is two ways, buskers deserve respect because they are making an honest living, and if you don't like it, you are free to walk away with a small shake of the head, largely untroubled for the rest of your day.

AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

"One man's noise pollution is another man's music."

So why doesn't that other man wear earphones and leave the rest of the human race's air unpolluted?

The Ukulele Bush BabyJuly 4th 2012.

"Buskers deserve respect because they are making an honest living"

Really? They are declaring their income to the Inland Revenue and keeping the Department of Work and Pensions informed? Presumably they are also making a realistic contribution to the cost of maintenance and street cleaning of the prime city centre pavement they are denying normal Council Tax-paying folk?

AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

"A 60 wat battery amp gives me a lift and enables me to create a small soundscape in the near vicinity to my pitch".

A 60-watt speaker is actually very loud. Have you not considered performing as a living statue? They are silent and don't degrade the environment and annoy people like whining strummers do.

Absinthe & TurksJuly 5th 2012.

"I play finger style folk guitar and have a gentle singing voice. A 60 wat battery amp gives me a lift and enables me to create a small soundscape in the near vicinity to my pitch."

I feel a Private Eye Pseud's Corner coming on.

Nick WestJuly 4th 2012.

Sorry Jonathan, it's people like you with the amps that need removing first, "gentle singing voice" or not.

I might be free to walk away (thanks for that) but all I'm walking away into right now on Church Street is another unwanted assault on my senses.

I appreciate people are trying to make an honest living, but our town centres are being turned into really quite unpleasant places. What gives someone the right to inflict so much noise on so many people in such a busy place?

Go and sing in a pub and get paid by people who may have made a positive choice to listen to you.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan WalkerJuly 4th 2012.

Nick, I respect your opinion but 875 people have signed this petition in just one week so I don't think you speak for the many when you say our town centres are being turned into 'unpleasant places'. You are speaking about your personal taste and prerference, which, like the people who shouted 'Judas' at Dylan when he went electric is for music to be unamplified and acoustic. I respect your aesthetic preference, but not your attempt to impose your limited vision of what constitutes a city street on everyone else, particularly because it involves the coercive use of Council power to scare and threaten performers with talk of 'trespass' and prosecution.

Pubs are closing every day. The pubs that are still open have dwindling resources to pay live musicians a living wage. Often, the people in pubs are trapped in a room with you whether they appreciate your music or not. On the street, only the people who enjoy it stick around and form a crowd, those who don't, like you, just walk away and get on with their lives.

Sefton ParkerJuly 4th 2012.

I'd be interested to know how many many of these 875 people have to use Church Street and out up with the racket and the obstruction of buskers?

I've had it forwarded to me in an e-mail by someone who hasn't lived in Liverpool for over fifteen years and never went to Church Street when he did. He didn't like the obstruction and the crowds.

RojeansJuly 4th 2012.

On BBC Radio merseyside now

1 Response: Reply To This...
RojeansJuly 4th 2012.

To add.. Roger philips phone in.

AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

Ban them all

Nick WestJuly 4th 2012.

Jonathan - your assumption on my musical preferences is, like your argument, way off the mark. I love banging techno and house music played through the best speakers possible. Either in the comfort of my own home, car or sometimes a club where I've paid to listen to it. Either way, I don't inflict it on people who don't want to listen to it. It's called being a considerate human being.

The only one of us imposing anything on anyone here is yourself.

As to the hundreds of people who've signed your petition; just how many people walk down Church Street each day? Tens of thousands?

I guarantee that if you set up a check point at either end on a day when lots of amped-up buskers were out, and forced people to vote for or against their presence, then there'd only be one outcome, and you wouldn't like it.

You say I don't "speak for the many," I'd say I speak for the silent majority.

Just to clarify one thing - I'm not against all buskers. But it's got out of control both in terms of numbers and amplification (with the first point probably explaining the second). They do add a certain element of colour to a street scene, but the amps kind of take the piss.

Good luck in your future busking.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan WalkerJuly 4th 2012.

Nick, you have not engaged with the substance of my point. You wish to relegate live music and performances to pubs and take them off the streets. I believe that the streets are the ideal place for live performances, and a place for a wide array of community activities other than shopping. The nuisance factor, whilst undeniably true for some, is frequently vastly overstated.

We have competing visions of city life Nick, and in a democracy, people are free to form their own opinions about they like. So far this campaign has attracted 1130 people. That is 255 people since we had our conversation this morning. If anything, this shows that the petition has struck a chord, whatever you may think.

TacitusJuly 4th 2012.

Big deal. Tens of thousands vote in legitimate secret ballots to appoint a City Council to run the place.

Seeking to overrule that democratic choice with an 'e-petition' signed by a single-issue clique smacks of bullying and high-handedness.

Is even David Cameron this arrogant?

Stinky ToysJuly 4th 2012.

So Mr. Walker, you have the democratic right to 'perform' in 1,130 living rooms, if - that is - they have living rooms of their own.

Charlotte ColemanJuly 4th 2012.

It is worth watching this www.youtube.com/watch…, like the 8,000 others on youtube that have enjoyed jonny walker singing in Liverpool. Youtube comments include: "This guy plays in liverpool almost every week.. he seriously kicks ass. we will sit and just watch him for hours.. sad yes.. but its like a free concert.. so BONUS!" and "I was in Liverpool last week and saw this´╗┐ guy performing on the street. He was playing Cat Stevens' Father and Son, and then he launched into Hallelujah. I had to get his demo CD, and it's beautiful. I hope he makes it, somewhere, sometime."

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

"Kicks ass"? I don't go along with cruelty to animals, in fact there's a petition of Facebook...

AnonymousJuly 10th 2012.

Just to bring you up to date dear, Cat Stevens has been Yusuf Islam for over 34 years.

Slaughter and The DogsJuly 4th 2012.

Cat Stevens? Dear oh dear, very Keith and Candice-Marie!

Mike DJuly 4th 2012.

Just some factual points:

1) All buskers are being asked to do is register to play. Pay a £20 fee for administration to go to managing the booking system and licence production.
2) In return they can play for 2 hours on any given specified site across numerous parts of the city centre - including the Pier Head.
3) After 2 hours someone else gets to play. So visitors/shoppers will get to see a wider variety of performers across the entire city centre.
4) As to the costs of the fee - a good busker can earn a few hundred on a good day.
5) There will be teething problems, so after three months there will be a review to see what can be improved.
6) Flash mobs are flash mobs. And most do notify in advance to the powers that be.

So if this is not a fair system, for performers, the public, the shops and the city centre then I know city council would be interested to know how it can be improved.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 9th 2012.

Epic Sax Guy (Can't be bothered signing in)

You missed out the extra details

A) The designated space given is 1.2m for anyone to busk in (Some bands busk with 8+ members!)

B) These regulations also include public liability insurance (costing up to £100)

C) Variety is achieved by moving around the occupied streets as well as waiting to hear new pieces from the busker that you are near

Also walking by on a different day will do the same

In all honesty, many people I have spoken to have agreed that these policies are a waste of time and the council should be focusing their efforts on doing something to help those whom are suffering, rather than waste taxpayers' money setting policies behind the backs of many people

If this was a fair system, there would not be any complaints

AnonymousJuly 10th 2012.

These policies are a waste of time. Instead of the elected Council fussing around this antisocial minority they should be taken by the police and put on the next train to Buckinghamshire or wherever they come from!

1. They've appeared from nowhere,
2. They are imposing their unwanted noise on those who live, work and shop in OUR streets
3. They think they own OUR streets
4. If their awful, overamplified racket gives us headaches it’s OUR fault apparently!
5. They are deluded enough to think that the thousands of grimaces they cause on the faces of people in OUR streets are signals of approval!

I suppose it's all the drink and drugs they can afford from their tax-free income.

AnonymousJuly 10th 2012.

Epic Sax Guy (Can't be bothered signing in)

1) Actually buskers do not appear from nowhere (Obviously)

2) If music that buskers play is deemed as "unwanted" then how come there are song requests, many people who come to watch and listen and please explain the large amounts of money that is often thrown into the cases of many buskers?

3) The streets of Liverpool belong to the people - Not an exclusive group of people like you seem to believe

4) If you do not like the music of buskers then you keep calm and walk on your way - If you do not like it then you shouldn't stop to listen

5) You have clearly shown that you have never put yourself in a busker's shoes

All buskers that I know have never seen a frown from the faces of people passing by and even at that I have witnessed an incident when a child was hurt from falling over the road. Upset and in a lot of pain, the child began to cry so the buskers nearby started to perform and the child stopped crying

This same child even started to dance despite the amount of pain that they must have been feeling at the time

And for a record, I do not drink nor do I take drugs therefore you are being prejudiced once more

AnonymousJuly 10th 2012.

Deluded.

AnonymousAugust 12th 2012.

Oh, so now buskers can heal the sick and make the lame walk!

Halellujah!

Jesus F. ChristJuly 4th 2012.

Can we have more of those jolly God-botherers please?
They bring colour, energy and talent to otherwise generic city centres.

Mike DJuly 4th 2012.

And one other thing - somone mentioned street charity direct debit collecters aka chuggers. They are now regulated in Liverpool - they can book to collect on 1 of 3 days a week on 1 of 3 sites. Manchester has a similar process.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 10th 2012.

Chuggers are OK. They don't have amplifiers so you can walk around them without being deafened.

Egg BanjoJuly 4th 2012.

Brill

AnonymousJuly 4th 2012.

Anyone who says Jonny is great etc is missing the point
Maybe he is, and if I wanted to go and hear what he does I'd make that choice and go and so it
But when I visit the city to shop, have a stroll, look at the architecture or whatever else I CHOOSE to do, I don't assume that I'm letting myself in for a blast of loud music, no matter how good it is or talented the performer
Understand?
I think this point is missed on anyone under 30, brought up on gobshites on TV yelling "make some noise" or driving round with gangsta rap on and da windows wound down!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Hank B. MarvinJuly 4th 2012.

Hear hear!

AnonymousJuly 5th 2012.

Not all under 30s are like that. I for one find them annoying in the same way as sanctioned street art-if I wanted to see it, I would go to a venue for it! And for those who say they draw crowds-crowds can be as much of a nuisance as the buskers themselves when it comes from trying to get from A to B with handfuls of heavy shopping.

Lou ReedJuly 4th 2012.

If I want to be deafened by overamplified people shouting out-of-tune I'd go to a pub with Karaoke.

This is Church Street, our city's premier shopping street, not a down-at-heel youth club in Wigan.

Darth FormbyJuly 4th 2012.

What a gang of, greasy, miserable, Tory minded conformists without a cause we have here!

The councils proposals are bound to lead to more of a homogenisation of buskers. It will be even worse than you think it is now. As for jamming on the 'tax paying' refrain: tune up, turn in, and drop off!

I signed the petition and I am encouraging others to do so too.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Mike DJuly 5th 2012.

Don't follow your logic. You saying only a certain type will want to perform. For the money they can make, I seriously doubt your prediction of homeginsation will ever materialise. We shall, of course, soon see.

Mr. WuJuly 4th 2012.

"What a gang of, greasy, miserable, Tory minded conformists without a cause we have here!"

Now steady on! I think you'll find that the proportion of Tory-minded, conformist tax-dodgers is much greater among the ranks of pop singers than among salt-of-the-earth Liverpool folk!

Darth FormbyJuly 5th 2012.

I've got to tell you, Mr Wu. I hate the use of the word 'folk' as anything other than a descriptive for a genre of music.

George Bush was rightly seen as a chuntering cowboy with dysbrainia when he used it to describe Al Qaeda, after the attacks on the World Trade Centre. The next thing, people are using this stupid hillbilly word all over the place. Now it's as prevalent as soggy buiscuits at a public school. It's not right. stop!

Mr. WuJuly 5th 2012.

Dubya never used the word 'folk' he used the slack-jawed yokel expression. "folks" which doesn't really exist in the English language as 'folk' has no plural as any fule kno.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Darth FormbyJuly 5th 2012.

True, Wu. It's when the word began to make it's irritating resurgence though.

Earache on Church StreetJuly 5th 2012.

I am not against all buskers. Far from it.

I was in Church Street one day and I heard a tango being played by an accordionist and a trumpeter outside the closed-down George Henry Lee’s. It was so good I even thought it would be a good wheeze to arrange a flashmob of pairs of tango dancers to emerge from the crowds, dance dramatically then when the music finished to disperse into the crowd and vanish as mysteriously as they came.

But where can you find tango dancers when you want them?

The appearance of all these proficient accordionists from Eastern Europe is the single best thing that has happened to busking in Liverpool city centre, they provide a pleasant, ambient, localised music that lends an air of continental sophistication and perhaps the arrival of the café society we have been promised for the last ten years.

The worst is the plague of amplified howlers and strummers whose dreary, tone-deaf, bedroom-mirror repertoire batters its way into the heads of citizens and echoes from one end of Church Street to the other.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Darth FormbyJuly 5th 2012.

I agree with you Earache. Who do you think is more likely to get a licence? The mop head with the sharp g string, who sings through his nose because he has a crush on Liam Gallagher or the amorphous groups of very good accordion players? Who do you think will be the target for the busking police?

Darth FormbyJuly 5th 2012.

Ran out of space for some reason: I think some of the accordion players will be driven out by this. When the tunnel police last did spot checks on vehicles they found three 'suspected' illegal immigrants. That means they stopped the car because the people in it weren't white.

Major FlintJuly 5th 2012.

Can we not reach a compromise by allowing all those without amplification to busk freely, within reason, but those who utilise electric amplification subject to permission or approval?

As for those dressed as living statues, can we not simply have them arrested and sold to the military for target practice?

That would clear the annoyance and still raise a few rupees for the council.

Major MisunderstandingJuly 5th 2012.

Yes by George!

General DisorderJuly 5th 2012.

Er - yes!

Living StatueJuly 5th 2012.

<Gesticulates frantically as Black Maria approaches>

Sgt W. Hartnell.July 5th 2012.

Stop that damned shaking you horrible little man, you're supposed to be a bleedin' statue!! Now Staaaaaaannd still!

Right men, take aim.........

AnonymousJuly 5th 2012.

I got arrested in Church Street for knocking out a short number on my one-eyed piccolo

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 5th 2012.

a disgrace...

AnonymousJuly 6th 2012.

The same happened to me when I had a good blast on my serpent.

AnonymousJuly 17th 2012.

The Council ought to have a more forgiving policy towards Renaissance musical instruments.

Their current policy is viol.

MickeyDrippin'July 5th 2012.

I may be in a minority but some of the buskers are quite good. One in particular is the blind guitarist who plays on Church Street on Fridays. Does anyone know his name, he is quite tallented?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 5th 2012.

Andy! He's been doing it for about 20 years or so...

Soft JoeJuly 6th 2012.

It's the deaf guitarists that make Church Street such an ordeal

Darth FormbyJuly 6th 2012.

I stood next to a living statue in Oxford and adopted a frozen pose for about twenty seconds. He told me to F off. I told him he couldn't handle the competition.

1 Response: Reply To This...
The Duke of WestminsterJuly 6th 2012.

And did he - handle - you?

Major CatastropheJuly 6th 2012.

OoooOOOOOoh! Oxford eh? GET HER!

Too good for Garston Market nowadays then? The language from those southerners is really appalling.

A good wheeze would be to form a queue behind a living statue. I was standing talking to a chum on the concourse in Lime Street Station once and an enormous queue formed behind us.

Or a 'kick me hard' sign.

AnonymousJuly 6th 2012.

Kick your what, Major?

Corporal PunishmentJuly 7th 2012.

Didn't you read Dennis The Menace in the days before he became a pointless, non-violent, weedy, non-menace?

It is worth buying up the old comics at car boot sales.

Michelle Bradley shared this on Facebook on July 8th 2012.
Old McDonaldJuly 8th 2012.

Terrible busker at the Lord Street-Whitechapel junction on Saturday afternoon and far too loud. It was hard to keep up a conversation twenty yards away he was so deafeningly loud.

6 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 9th 2012.

Epic Sax Guy (Can't be bothered logging in)

"It was hard to keep up a conversation twenty yards away he was so deafeningly loud."

In all fairness that is not strictly a problem caused by the busker but one caused by yourself and whomever you were talking to as you could have moved - Problem solved

AnonymousJuly 9th 2012.

Epic Sax Guy (Can't be bothered signing in)

Yes the post that starts "Epic Sax Guy (Can't be bothered logging in)" is the same Epic Sax Guy as this one

AnonymousJuly 10th 2012.

You presume to take away my freedom to speak to people on a street I have used and paid Council Tax for all my life?

How dare you!

Old McDonaldJuly 10th 2012.

I wrote:- "It was hard to keep up a conversation twenty yards away he was so deafeningly loud."

The unbelievably arrogant reply was:-

“In all fairness that is not strictly a problem caused by the busker but one caused by yourself and whomever you were talking to as you could have moved - Problem solved”

Firstly it is a public street for the use of all, not a minority who like to force their will on others.

Secondly I could not just walk away because I was meeting a large party of foreign tourists for whom McDonald’s is an easy-to-find landmark.

The group was of young people so they definitely didn’t like the maudlin old rubbish that the busker was attempting to sing (in case the pro-busking lynch mob are at all interested in the opinions of other people).

AnonymousJuly 10th 2012.

Epic Sax Guy (Can't be bothered signing in)

"You presume to take away my freedom to speak to people on a street I have used and paid Council Tax for all my life?

How dare you!"

I could say the same:

You presume to take away my freedom to busk to people in an office I have trusted and paid Council Tax to for all my life?

How dare you!

Buskers do not force their will on anyone. This is why people walk on their way when they are not interested in their music or stay when they are pleased

If you believed the music of that busker to be unbearable you could have moved this group as soon as they had assembled but you have said enough - You are stereotyping all buskers based on one busker who just happened to be near you

You are also being prejudiced and ageist when you say that young people "definitely didn't like the maudlin old rubbish that the busker was attempting to sing" - Just because a person is young, it does not mean that they will not enjoy older things

Old McDonaldJuly 10th 2012.

You just can't accept reality can you!

The noise was deafening as it was horrible and the young people found it unpleasant. Just like everyone else. I could hear it on Victoria Street.

But of course that's not forcing it upon other people in your little world.

AnonymousJuly 9th 2012.

This campaign for cacophony is taking a rather sinister turn. Not only have I come across printed cards in public places but I have received an unsolicited e-mail urging me to sign a petition with no explanation of how they obtained my e-mail address.

Exactly who are the people behind this campaign, who is paying for it and where are they getting our confidential information?

AnonymousJuly 9th 2012.

Epic Sax Guy (Can't be bothered signing in)

To all of you who are disrespecting JONATHAN WALKER and all other musicians, why don't you try being in the shoes of buskers for an entire day and see what really goes on

It is artificial to regard music and art as "rubbish" - Do you judge your books by their cover, font and language?

Until you fully understand the current situation, you are being prejudiced and are only hearing things from one side of the street

That street is obviously not Church Street nor Bold Street

It is a law of nature that if you do not like something and have the opportunity to get away from it, you would do so at an instant

Therefore if you do not like buskers for what they do, keep calm and walk on your way

There are many alternative streets for you to walk down as well so you are not limited to these main streets

Why should pure and original music be stopped and "regulated" just because a minority of people can not be bothered to walk around buskers or avoid them altogether?

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 10th 2012.

You need to have your head tested

Mike DJuly 10th 2012.

What about the thousands of people who work in the city centre who can't walk away?
PLus you are missign the point - some buskers hog the most lucrative pitches. That is not fair to other buskers. This is not about less buskers. It's about having more and increasing the variety.

AnonymousJuly 10th 2012.

Epic Sax Guy (Can't be bothered signing in)

"ANONYMOUS
You need to have your head tested"

I could say the same to you but I will not play your "Trolling" game

MIKE D, Many buskers have told me that they have actually been inside several shops to ask for the opinion of store managers and the majority of responses were positive

When you say:

"some buskers hog the most lucrative pitches. That is not fair to other buskers."

I could say:

Some people hog the most lucrative buildings. That is not fair to other people.

With these restrictions that have been introduced, I fail to see why more buskers would want to busk with these unfair policies therefore there will be less buskers and less variety

AnonymousJuly 10th 2012.

You really ought to try being a surrealist comedian!

AnonymousJuly 31st 2012.

Mike D,

Your penchant for hyperbole and hysteria knows no bounds. If you think 'thousands of people' are adversely affected by buskers then why not commission a survey. Perhaps you could then ask the people of Liverpool how they feel about Philip Green's tax arrangements, or indeed Vodafone and Boots to name just a few Church Street residents that arguably have a greater impact on many thousands of people through their creative tax avoidance arrangements, necessitating enormous cuts in public spending and providing minimum wage short term retail jobs for the under-employed...

If you really cared about people hogging the best pitches you would have put in place a scheme that created more pitches not reduced performing spaces to ONE pre-booked space on the whole of Church Street and Lord Street that has to be pre-booked between many different performers.

Carnivalesque LiverpoolJuly 9th 2012.

It's Carnival Saturday this weekend, so lets create some theatre on Sat folks. An expected 60,000 people are coming into the city centre to see the carnival, so this is an opportunity to get the message accross that should not be missed.

Call to all artists, creatives, musicians, buskers, tap dancers, hula hoopers, breakers, street performers, citizen journalists, photographers, trick cyclists and nose flautists...get out there and MAKE SOME NOISE!

AnonymousJuly 10th 2012.

As long as it isn't amplified strumming and whining that would be good!

AnonymousJuly 10th 2012.

These kind of regulations are making this city a horrible place to live.
Buskers add joy to the streets.
What kind of sick, strange narrow minded people must you be to think restricting musicians and performers will somehow improve your 'city life'.

You live such grey lives.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 10th 2012.

As'Epic Sax Guy (Can't be bothered signing in)' says repeatedly, if you don't like it, move on.

AnonymousJuly 10th 2012.

Think about how quiet and boring walking through town without a little bit of music in the background? Kind of has a little more personality than an MP3 player

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 10th 2012.

Cities are full of life and the infinite variety of sounds that life makes.

Not that we are allowed to hear them in Liverpool any more.

Kiron ReidAugust 8th 2012.

The presumably authorised singer who was on opposite M&S at 4.30 on Sunday was far too loud. It certainly put me off stopping around to do shopping. Perfectly reasonable singer of Beatles and pop covers, backing music only but not as good as buskers who play and sing and are not mic'd completely over the top. You could hear the guy all the way down Church Alley at the Blue coat. That wouldn't have been the case with most genuine buskers.

AnonymousAugust 9th 2012.

Couple of tinnitus merchants 'performing' inside Lime Street Station the other week. Obviously had no grasp of how painfully loud they were and how the misery was exacerbated by reverberation off all that plate glass.

Pin BallAugust 10th 2012.

In light of this new legislation on buskers (and the associated ruling that any 'talentless buskers' should be stopped from performing altogether), has ANYBODY not realised that for the last 20 years or so, there has been a particularly 'talentless' busker who has managed to evade detection all this time and STILL plies his trade playing the same mumbled non-song (and the same four notes on his harmonica repeated ad infinitum) over and over and over again in the subway between Lime Street Underground and Main Line stations? I first came across him in 1988 and, incredibly, the guy is still there to this day......it is absolutely astonishing that he has lasted this long! You should check him out - he's usually there weekdays between 6am and 5pm.

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