St Albans buskers face tough new performance guidelines

A busker in St Albans.

A busker in St Albans. - Credit: Archant

City centre buskers will be subject to stricter rules if a draft code of practice is approved.

A busker outside Jack Wills in St Albans.

A busker outside Jack Wills in St Albans. - Credit: Archant

St Albans district council (SADC) will soon be consulting on a new street performance code after offices in the city centre complained about noise disturbance.

Businesses said staff members could not answer calls or work efficiently because instruments were so deafening.

If the draft code is approved, it would be forbidden to play music that can be heard more than 30 metres away, stay in one area for more than an hour, return to the same spot twice on the same day, clog up pavements, and sit on public benches.

Musicians would also not be allowed to use amplification, drums, trumpets, or other “loud instruments”.

They would be required to take regular breaks and turn down the music if requested by an authorised officer.

It is noted that “solicit[ing] contributions” would be regarded as begging and could result in prosecution.

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The report says: “Complaints about busking tend to apply to a small number of performers and usually relate to noise levels, repetitive performances or obstruction.

“As a busker you should consider your intended performance and location carefully to avoid complaints. You should avoid repeating the same tune/song for the entire performance and be considerate with the volume you use.”

It stresses that even if the code of practice is adopted, instruments would not be confiscated and legal notice not handed out unless buskers are “causing a disturbance”.

The Keeping Streets Live Campaign and the Musicians’ Union will be approached in the consultation.

SADC’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee will consider and potentially amend the draft rules on January 23, before the consultation starts.

There is already a by-law in place for busking in St Albans, but this code is much more comprehensive.

Various other towns and cities in Britain implement a busking code because the practice is not regulated outside of London, where in some places buskers require a license.