Beatbox busker Elijah MC was asked to move on by the Business Improvement District [BID] ambassadors at the request of a local shop-keeper. He refused, they reasoned with him, he still refused, they called the police, an officer arrived but didn’t know about local byelaws and the video went onto YouTube. None of it needed to happen.
Buskers often make a great contribution to the street scene in the city and I think it is fair to say that the relationship between businesses, particularly retailers, and buskers is generally good. First class buskers are welcomed and shop-keepers will even put some money in their hats and even bad buskers are usually tolerated with the hope that practice will make perfect!
But buskers have to realise that, what makes a good pitch for a busker is lots of people passing by and those people are usually there because they either work in the city centre shops and attractions or they are visiting them. In short buskers rely on businesses to make the city centre a busy place worth busking in.
Most businesses are prepared to have a busker outside their door for an hour or so. But if that door happens to be the Theatre Royal with a performance of Macbeth inside competing with Wonderwall outside then there is a problem. Equally, if a shop-keeper tires of listening to a busker perfecting his/her art [whether it's opera or beatbox] it is perfectly reasonable to ask them to move to another pitch; not necessarily to stop [although this is covered by the byelaw below], just to move.
Indeed, not only is it reasonable, contrary to the popular myth promoted in Elijah MC’s video, it is against a local byelaw [Noise in the Street & Touting under section 235 of the Local Government Act 2007] which states:
"No person in a street or other public place shall, after being requested to desist by a constable, or by any person annoyed or disturbed, or by any person acting on his behalf:
- by shouting or singing;
- by playing on a musical instrument; or
- by operating or permitting to be operated any radio, gramophone, amplifier, tape recorder or similar instrument
cause or permit to be made any noise which is so loud or so continuous or repeated as to give reasonable cause for annoyance to other persons in the neighbourhood."
But let’s all be sensible. There isn’t any need to resort to the law. The local authority publishes excellent guidelines for buskers [Busking in Brighton & Hove] which, if they are followed, should keep everyone happy. The BID Ambassadors in the video were terribly polite and in the right. Let’s all be polite and sensible and continue to get on.
With thanks to Tim Nichols - City Council's Head of Environmental Health and Licensing - for supplying the above information in double quick time.
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