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 Change.org 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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Graduate Media Assistant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an ambitious and adaptable...

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before