If you’ve been following Liverpool City Council’s awkward, ridiculous clampdown on buskers over the past few weeks (we’re fine with most of them except the guy who plays ‘Champagne Supernova’ on Whitechapel), then you’ll know that most of the city is up in arms about it.

They’re right to be: busking makes our streets even more animated, and we’ve been exposed to some pretty amazing music from right across the globe when we’ve popped out to Boots for some wet wipes. Plus, our day isn’t complete if we’ve not heard some surf-y guitar riffs from the guitarist and his guide dog on Church Street.

Local legal bigwigs Kirwans, representing the city’s buskers, hunted out a judicial review over the ‘unreasonable, overbearing and unfair’ decision for buskers to pay fees and take insurance out before they hit the streets.

Today (28th August) it’s been announced that following the legal challenge, the Council have with immediate effect suspended this busking thing, which has been in play since July.

Talking to the Beeb, solicitor David Kirwan said this injunction, and the subsequent announcement that the council was to review its policy, was “the chance to put right a wrong by voluntarily overturning these new measures and, by doing so, [they will] save the city the cost of defending what is indefensible”.

“This is an important campaign for our city and other towns and cities across the UK whose council leaders may be tempted to follow Liverpool’s poor example. While arguably trying to make improvements Liverpool City Council has created a problem – but it is not too late to fix it. A common sense solution can be reached to satisfy the council and benefit performers, traders and the public” says David.

He also urged Liverpool’s mayor, Joe Anderson, to start afresh with the policy, this time with proper consultation with the street performers. Too right.

Musician and poet Tom George recently wrote a piece for SevenStreets giving his experiences of being a busker, and his opinion about the recent clampdown.

This is an updated news piece from earlier in the month, following the new suspension of the busking policy.

12 Responses to “Busker-gate: Liverpool City Council drop busking laws”

  1. There are two buskers who really annoy me in the city centre. I wouldn’t mind so much if electrical amplification was banned, it makes many of the buskers noisy and unavoidable. Some background music is nice but there is no need for it to blare down Church St.

    There is one man who only sings Ava Maria, badly. He is raising money for Alder Hey but he’s dreadful and only made worse by singing in to a mic.

    There is also a man from Preston who only seems to sing one song. He’s become a meme amongst my friends for being a ‘warrior, lord’. During one day in town I walked past him four times, three times during the same song (I wasn’t just unlucky, he’s always singing this).

    My solution is as above, just ban/reduce electrical equipment. It’s not a contest or concert so it doesn’t need to interfere with a nice relaxing day out.

  2. Agreed – the nasal fellow who bangs out Oasis tunes and rips apart classics should be told to go home. All the others really liven up the streets. Why do they need insurance anyways?

  3. Pin Ball

    Have none of you even seen what surely must be Liverpool’s WORST BUSKER, EVER – he usually skulks down in the subway beneath Lime Street Station (St George’s Hall) on weekdays and is so appalling he has to take the accolade: he has been playing the same “song” for the last 24 years and plays the same four notes on his harmonica as he mumbles incoherently some unintelligible words every couple of bars. Even the Lime Street Underground station staff are aware of his sheer talentlessness. 24 years!! I tell you! Seriously! How did this guy continue to evade the talent police I will never know.

  4. Re Pin Ball above… 24 years? Nooooo! Really? Surely not? This guy has kept us intrigued ever since we’ve had to get off at Lime St. I’m convinced he’ll change the tune if he reaches £1 for the day’s takings. Sadly, I’ve only ever seen about 4p in his collection. 🙁

  5. Pin Ball

    @MCF. I am not joking. 1988 he was first there…..and he was playing that same tune back then. Unless he isn’t real and he’s just a hologram who seems to have astral projected himself into that subway? Why else have the talent police or the council not even twigged? The mind truly boggles. I passed by again this Wednesday and, yup, it was the same song….and same 4 notes on the harmonica. Over and over again. He’s now on Youtube – famous at last. If you key in the words “crap buskers” you might come across him.

  6. “the nasal fellow who bangs out Oasis tunes and rips apart classics” – Haha! He makes me sad.
    Still, would rather have him and all the other awful buskers if it meant we could have the great ones too. There’s a girl who sings/plays guitar on bold street, she makes the madness of the city centre a bit more bearable.

  7. I think buskers and street entertainers on the streets of Liverpool are a part of our culture, they have always been there in one form or another, (remember Punch & Judy). I have to agree that the amplification used by some of the vocalists is way over the top, especially when you get two on the same stretch of Lord Street trying to out do each other. But apart from the staff in the shops, no one has to stand and listen if they don’t want to and some, like the man with his dog, are well worth listening to.
    Well done David Kirwan for fighting the cause, the council, in my opinion, have been a little heavy handed in it’s approach to dealing with what only they seem to perceive as a problem. Maybe they can revisit the issue and find a better way of regulating street entertainment. I have noticed that in Liverpool One, they provide the entertainer with a mat bearing the Liverpool One logo on it which seems to signify permission to be there, perhaps the council could create designated performance spots and authorise people to perform between given times.
    Whatever happens I hope they stay, after all is said and done there are far worse things to worry about.

  8. Justin Dunn

    @Pinball I’ve been observing this phenomenally bad busker for just over a year. Doesn’t matter what time of the morning you go in, either – always, ALWAYS the same “song”.

    He’s there on Saturdays, too. Drives me mad!

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