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Camden Council to bring in “draconian” licensing rules for buskers

Street performers in Camden that use music in their shows will have to secure a licence from 2014
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Camden Council will introduce licences for street entertainers from next year, meaning buskers could face fines of up to £1,000 if they play without one.

The north London local authority has approved plans that will see the borough-wide licensing policy come into effect from February 2014.

The Musicians’ Union said the council was taking “draconian measures” against busking and urged it to reconsider its decision. It warned that the rules would threaten the borough’s vibrant atmosphere.

From next year, street entertainers that include music in their performance will have to apply for a standard licence – costing £19 – which allows performance from 10am to 9pm, before they can play.

A special busking licence will be required for some other types of performance – such as those including amplified music – costing £47. Both licences will last for a year.

Failure to comply with the new system could mean buskers are fined up to £1,000 and instruments are seized.

Dave Webster, MU national organiser for live performance, said: “It is a real shame that just a year after the Live Music Act was brought in to encourage the performance of live music that Camden Council has decided to bring in these draconian measures against busking.

“Live music is an integral part of London’s identity and the onerous and potentially expensive requirements that Camden is placing on buskers will threaten the borough’s vibrant atmosphere.”

He added: “We urge Camden Council to reconsider this policy and the MU would be happy to work with them to establish a code of best practice for busking, as we did in places like Liverpool.”

Abdul Hai, Camden Council cabinet member for community safety, said the local authority was not attempting to outlaw busking.

He said: “We’re simply implementing light touch regulation of street entertainment that will strike a balance between the rights of residents to a quiet life and buskers wishing to perform in public places.

“This light touch regulation will restrict the use of amplified equipment, particularly close to residential areas late into the evening.”

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