Buskers at London tourist spots face £1,000 fines
1st May 2019

Buskers at London tourist spots face £1,000 fines if they don’t broaden their repertoires after complaints they play the SAME music for hours at a time

  • Kensington and Chelsea Council set to introduce stringent rules for buskers 
  • Council receiving more than 1,200 complaints of noise pollution each year
  • Locals say area is ‘a haven for poorly performing individuals preying on tourists’ 

Buskers in the capital could face £1,000 fines if they fail to play different music, because they are making residents’ lives a ‘misery’ with their repetitive tunes. 

Kensington and Chelsea Council could be set to introduce a stringent set of new rules to street artists, limiting them to a 45-minute time limit on performances and demanding they play a ‘full and varied repertoire’. 

Buskers will be told to avoid ‘excessive repetition’ and could be restricted to certain zones within the borough. 

Violinist Antonio Palanovic, 24, who busks around South Kensington, said: ‘I’m not sympathetic to the residents because they want me to stop playing. Most are very rude’

The proposals, which look set to be given the green light at a council meeting this evening, come amid a wave of complaints from business owners and residents. 

The council says it receives more than 1,200 complaints about noise each year from stricken residents in the well-heeled London borough. 

The rules would apply to buskers in tourist hotspots including Notting Hill and Portobello Road, around the museums in South Kensington, Westminster and Kensington High Street.  

The council launched a public consultation last summer, asking residents and performers whether buskers should be restricted or even banned. 

One resident said: ‘Often the performers are untalented with only one or two songs in their repertoire. The tunes are repetitive and detrimental to my health.’

Another added: ‘I work in an office block overlooking Exhibition Rd, SW7. Around 20 of us working in that block are at our wits’ end after years of daily loud and repetitive steel drum and saxophone music from buskers on the street immediately overlooked by our offices. 

‘We wear earplugs, go and work in another room if available, work at home where possible.

‘I’ve lived by Notting Hill Gate for over 30 years. Now, for the past year or so, we’ve been beset by a legion of truly awful beggars trying to play music loudly, badly, repetitively, on accordions, drums, and even a small ‘ensemble’, often amplified – the worst is a clarinettist who only half-knows one tune, the theme to Doctor Zhivago, and plays it constantly at full volume.’

A doctor who lives in the borough told the consultation: ‘I often work odd shifts in the emergency department, the performers are loud, not always good quality and disturb my sleep for shifts. I would be very grateful for restriction/licensing.’ 

Bubble man Steves Szczepan Atroszko performing outside the Natural History Museum in South Kensington – but some residents have complained the bubbles ‘make the pavement slippery’

But not everyone is in favour of the clampdown. 

One resident said: ‘I would prefer not to live in a totalitarian state that even considers such fascistic regulation of musicians.’

If given the go-ahead by the cabinet tonight, those breaching the new rules could be hit with a £1,000 fine or a £100 on-the-spot penalty.

The code of conduct proposes some 11 commandments for performers, including a ban on performing on the same spot twice in a day.  

Violinist Antonio Palanovic, 24, who busks around South Kensington, told the Evening Standard: ‘I’m not sympathetic to the residents because they want me to stop playing. Most are very rude.’ 

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