Self-policing policy adopted for Bath buskers

Busking in Abbey Churchyard
Busking in Abbey Churchyard

Bath & North East Somerset Council has decided to put in place a targeted approach to amplified busking in the city, rather than an outright ban.

A ban was considered following concerns raised by local businesses and residents over amplification in Abbey Church Yard, Kingston Parade and Abbey Green.

However, after considering responses to a public consultation on busking in Bath city centre, the Council has decided to use Government legislation to target those individuals causing problems, rather than an outright ban which affects everyone.

Cllr Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North) Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “The results of the public consultation gave a clear message that a total ban on amplification for every busker in the area around Bath Abbey was not welcomed.

“This is an issue people clearly feel passionate about as we received almost 1,500 responses to our consultation – the most we’ve ever received to an online consultation. 56% of respondents said they were not adversely affected by amplified music from busking and the majority (51%) also said they were not supportive of a ban.

“We have therefore decided not to introduce a Public Space Protection Order but instead we will use another power under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The service of a Community Protection Notice allows us to target individuals who are not adhering to the rules.”

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

The 12 week public consultation took place between January and March 2015, and included an online questionnaire and a public workshop – bringing together residents, businesses, buskers and councillors – where concerns were raised that the broad brush approach of a Public Space Protection Order might penalise everyone rather than dealing with just the small number of buskers who fail to busk responsibly.

There were offers of support from Bath Abbey, Bath Business Improvement District, the Musicians Union and the buskers – which has resulted in a review of the buskers voluntary code of practice and the convening of a buskers liaison group that continues the positive conversation. All those involved have agreed that the situation has already improved greatly as a result of this cooperation.

The Council has agreed to continue to work with the busking community and other partners, to achieve harmony through better communication and the serving of Community Protection Notices, if necessary. This will be reviewed in December 2015.