Final decision imminent on St Albans busking code of conduct

PUBLISHED: 19:09 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 19:09 16 July 2018

A busker outside Jack Wills in St Albans.

A busker outside Jack Wills in St Albans.


It is crunch time for the controversial busking code of conduct, about which a final decision will be made tomorrow.

Buskers on St Albans streets could be subject to a host of new rules, including restrictive volume control and banning merchandise sales.

The performers are also asked to introduce themselves to surrounding businesses and build a working relationship with them, and to not repeat songs or spend more than roughly two hours in any location.

Rules which were floated in a previous draft but have now been scrapped include banning amplifiers and loud instruments such as drums and trumpets.

Martin Slaughter, managing director of St Peter’s Street management consultancy business Hartley McMaster Ltd, found busking so intrusive in 2016 that he considered moving premises.

He said: “I read the draft code of conduct and it seems perfectly reasonable, but also toothless. It relies on buskers being reasonable and considerate as the options for action if they aren’t seem to be a warning letter - which I suspect would have little impact on someone who is happy to be unreasonable - or the threat of noise abatement action - which sounds very unlikely to happen in any real case.

“Most people are reasonable, but they probably aren’t the ones that have caused problems for local businesses in the past.

“Given that there already is a code of conduct (which has been widely ignored) I can’t see what this adds. I appreciate that central government wants councils to reduce regulation, but it doesn’t sound outrageous to licence - and therefore control - amplified busking.”

A guitarist who pitches up in St Peter’s Street, Mark Percy, disagreed: “They have no idea how much harm [regulation] does to a real musician - either a keyboard player or a guitarist.

“The abuse of busking by musicians with backing tracks and subwoofers, creating a noise nuisance and an experience similar to torture for restaurant owners, stall holders, and passers by, is ruining it for ordinary buskers.”

He described it as “draconian”: “In a country that is over regulated, slowly, live street music is being killed.”

Cllr David Heritage, chairman of the licensing and regulatory committee which will scrutinise this proposal, declined to comment before the meeting, which is being held tomorrow.

More news stories

39 minutes ago

“Don’t ignore hate – report it.” That is the message that pupils from across Hertfordshire heard at an event marking National Hate Crime Awareness Week.

44 minutes ago

Models wearing local fashion strutted their stuff down a catwalk at the newly renovated St Albans Museum + Gallery.

St Albans district Remainers joined a march in London last weekend, calling for a vote on the government’s Brexit deal.

Verulam School has bounced back from poor reports and safeguarding concerns to score a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted.


St Leonard’s Church in Sandridge is holding a Harvest Festival service with farmers and their families.

Digital Edition

Read the The Herts Advertiser e-edition E-edition
Zoo Watch CountryPhile

Newsletter Sign Up

Herts Advertiser weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read stories

Show Job Lists

Herts Most Wanted Herts Business Awards