Council likely to ‘busk’ it and see.

A busker in Abbey Courtyard.
A busker in Abbey Courtyard.

Looks like the threat of legal action against noisy busking – using amplified music – around Bath Abbey has been enough to quieten things down. So much so that it’s thought B&NES won’t now be using the powers of a new Public Protection Order they have at their disposal  to ban amplifiers and seem likely to agree to monitor the situation and review again in December..

On Monday members of the rather wordy Communities, Transport and Environment Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel met to discuss the results of a public consultation on the subject which took place earlier this year.

Things had rather dramatically come to a head when a church service at Bath Abbey was stopped  – apparently – because of the distracting noise from busking outside. The Abbey Churchyard and Courtyard are popular and busy public spaces for the buskers to pitch.

At the meeting an oral report from the officer Cathryn Humphries ( Licensing and Protection Team Manager) described the number and nature of the complaints and the action that could be taken , chiefly either action against individuals ( Community Protection Notices)or a Public Space Protection Order prohibiting amplified busking in general within Abbey Churchyard.

Abbey Church Yard is a popular place and a good spot for buskers.
Abbey Church Yard is a popular place and a good spot for buskers.

However, it seems since the consultation was started the number of complaints has fallen quite markedly ( 38 compared with 97 over the same period last year) . Also three warnings against individuals have been issued and one Community Protection Notice.

In addition a Busker Forum has been set up to encourage dialogue between the buskers and residents and businesses in the area concerned.
As a result the recommendation to Cabinet is not to issue a Public Space Protection Order at
present but to welcome the fact that the consultation exercise itself had a deterrent effect and to review the situation in December, while continuing to use Community Protection Notices against individuals causing a nuisance.

My thanks to Kirsten Elliott – local author, publisher and historian – for drawing my attention top a public notice published in the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette on November 7th, 1793. Seems history really does repeat itself!

The notice from the Bath Chronicle of 1793. Click on image to enlarge.
The notice from the Bath Chronicle of 1793. Click on image to enlarge.

The notice – which is signed by the Mayor H.Harrington and a Justice of the Peace called John Horton says as follows:

*Whereas great annoyance and inconvenience arise to the inhabitants of this city from the resort of beggars, ballad singers and other disorderly persons frequenting the streets…. We the Mayor and Justice, truly sensible of such evils, do hereby strictly command and enjoin all constables, beadles and other officers … to be vigilant and diligent in search of such offenders and to apprehend the same, that they be dealt with according to the law.’

They also had a dig at local Bathonians and visitors who were not helping the problem by digging deep into their pockets.

‘We beg leave to remind the charitable and well-disposed persons to withhold their indiscriminate donations from which arises encouragement to imposters another unworthy petitioners.’