The national body that campaigns for street performers has accused York council of introducing a busking ban – which it says is ‘absurd’ and ‘discriminatory’.
Keep Streets Live helped draw up City of York Council’s busking policy.
Director of Keep Streets Live, Chester Bingley, says these changes were drawn up without consulting them – and add up to an effective ban on busking in York.
In an open letter, he writes: “As a Director of Keep Streets Live and a member of the team that worked on the city’s busking guidance I’m shocked and disappointed to find that York has taken it upon itself to not only ‘ban’ busking but to make substantial changes to the guidance without any consultation whatsoever with ourselves or the York busking community.”
He said this was “more than a little discourteous as it entirely misrepresents the position of our organisation and suggests that we support your policy, which we absolutely do not”.
Chester described it as a ‘kneejerk reaction’ from the council, a year after Keep Streets Live issued its safe busking guidelines.
Under national coronavirus restrictions busking is “perfectly lawful provided current social distancing requirements regarding crowds are adhered to”, he said, adding that “the council has no legal right decide that it is allowed/prohibited”.
“It seems absurd that York will be welcoming, and indeed encouraging thousands of visitors to the city from next week and yet a busker is treated as a health hazard,” he writes.
“Beer gardens will be open (with music). Zoos, theme parks and other tourist attractions will be able to gather large crowds.”
And he urges the council to think again.
“We urge you to drop this ban immediately and to incorporate our Covid safe busking advice into the guidance to maintain the relationship that we’ve all built up over the past years.
“The busking community is a great asset to York, and a breakdown in trust and loss of confidence in the guidance is likely to lead to an increase in problems as things begin to open up this season.”