Peace at last? Camden introduces busker licences in bid to deter late-night noise

Buskers caught playing without a licence could soon be fined up to £1,000

Its residents have been described as "suffering hell" at the hands of buskers but the atmosphere in Camden could almost be described as heavenly on Thursday as street musicians serenaded shoppers.

Some were still unaware that the council had this week introduced legislation meaning buskers caught playing without a licence could soon be fined up to £1,000.

"That's the first I've ever heard of it," said singer-songwriter Tom Dibb, playing original numbers just outside the underground exit. "Street performers can be a nuisance but I don't think it's necessary to have a licence, but the cost doesn't sound too steep. I think it could even improve the level of performance in a positive way."

Teenage American student Charlie Ebert had just set up outside Camden Lock when the Independent arrived and was clearly against the new law. "Camden is all about busking and shopping. There's a real DIY culture here and I think it's gonna put people off performing. I wouldn't come back here if I had to have a licence."

High-profile protests from musician Billy Bragg and comedian Mark Thomas failed to persuade Camden councillors to vote against the proposal and buskers must from February pay £19 for an annual licence if they want to perform in the area.

The Labour-led authority voted by 26 to 17  on Monday to adopt a section of the London Local Authorities Act 2000 enabling the council to licence busking. The policy bans amplified music and sets a 9pm cut-off time.

Labour councillor Abdul Hai, responsible for community safety, was confronted by protesters after Monday's vote. He said: "Campaigners against this new policy have been making a mountain out of a molehill suggesting that we are trying to outlaw busking. I can categorically say this is not what this policy seeks to achieve. This light touch regulation will restrict the use of amplified equipment.

"The idea people singing on the street should be worried is ridiculous. It's like the policy we have to stop gangs, that doesn't affect people meeting for good reason, the police only enforce it when there's trouble."

Lib Dem councillor Chris Naylor voted in favour of the law "because residents have been suffering hell - loud, intrusive, late-night noise."

Roy Walker, who has lived close to Camden High Street for 55 years and is one of dozens of people who have complained to the council about buskers, agreed after he said the musicians failed to compromise. He told the Camden New Journal: "We and the council tried everything else. The small buskers will have a chance now, because they won't be drowned out by amps and big bands. My own flat had such a noise problem that I couldn't hold a conversation. I'm looking forward to my first night's sleep, so are many of us."

More than 4,500 people have so far signed a petition on stating that "street culture in Camden is under imminent and real threat". They are hoping to force a similar u-turn that Liverpool City Council performed after it tried to enforce a similar policy. Liverpool reviewed it in 2012 after campaigners applied for a High Court injunction barring its enforcement.

Italian musicians Stefano Derada and Gianluca 'Perry' Perotta carried on regardless on the bridge over Camden High Street last Thursday night.

"It's a bit shit," said Stefano, on his day off from working in Subway. "But if we have to get a licence we will," he added before the pair broke into an acoustic version of AC/DC's You Shook Me All Night Long.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam