Buskers and street performers will need licences to work at some of London’s most popular tourist sites after a crackdown by Westminster City Council.
The local authority is planning to introduce “area-based approaches” to buskers in the borough, claiming it receives about 1,800 complaints relating to noise and obstructions caused by entertainers every year.
It is now proposing to introduce a licensing regime with “dedicated pitches and specific rules” for those pitches on Oxford Street and in Leicester Square, Chinatown and Piccadilly.
In Trafalgar Square it wants to introduce area-specific rules, but allow performers to manage this themselves without licensing. In Covent Garden the council said it would aim to support an existing self-managed scheme, and take action if needed.
When the proposals were first announced, then cabinet member for public protection and licensing Ian Adams said the council wanted to “strike the right balance so everyone can enjoy street entertainment”.
The proposals are currently being consulted on.
A petition against them has been supported by about 200 people to date. It claims “the future of street performance in Britain’s capital is under threat”.
“The unlicensed Trafalgar square will become the most over subscribed pitch in the world as the council forces all other unlicensed buskers to use it, while amp bans make all other spaces unworkable,” it claims.
It adds: “Westminster Council has been historically oppressive towards street performance and should not be trusted with our cultural heritage on the capitals streets.”
Last year, the Musicians’ Union hit out at restrictions placed on buskers performing in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.