New guidance for York buskers asks them to curb ‘unreasonably loud’ performances – or potentially face enforcement action.

City of York Council has joined forces with Make It York and the Keep Streets Live campaign to issue the updated policy.

The Busking Guidelines 2019 recognise the importance of street entertainment, saying: “Busking is an important part of creating a vibrant, exciting and cosmopolitan atmosphere for residents, visitors and businesses in York.”

But it adds:

  • However the city is receiving an increasing number of complaints, often regarding amplified busking, repetitive busking and / or obstructions to highways / access points.

    These busking guidelines are to be used as a reminder of what the city considers reasonable and neighbourly behaviour.

    Any behaviour which is deemed to be unreasonable will be investigated and may result in enforcement action.

Prevent disturbance

Photograph: Alex Blăjan / Unsplash
The guidelines state there should be no amplified performances between 9pm and 8am.

Material “should not be repeated in the same pitch”. Any more than two hours in one pitch would be considered unreasonable.

Although there is no fixed level for volume, the guidance states that it should be “just above the level of ambient street noise”:

  • If your volume is loud enough to be heard inside buildings in the surrounding area or from the opposite side of a street, it is likely this is too loud and would be considered unreasonable.

    Wind and percussion instruments will likely need dampers and brushes.

    Using amplified, piercing or repetitive noise will require buskers to move pitches more regularly to prevent disturbance.


Chester Bingley from Keep Streets Live said: “Keep Streets Live is happy to see that York is continuing its positive approach to busking and street entertainment.

“The new guidance maintains the creative spirit whilst improving clarity, ensuring that responsible performers are made welcome and that York maintains its reputation as a vibrant cultural hub.”

How to resolve busking issues

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Start a conversation

People who have an issue with a busker should begin by speaking directly to them about their concerns.

If this doesn’t resolve the problem they can contact the Make It York city centre office on 01904 551355 and “a member of the Make It York city centre and markets team will assist”.

Enforcement
Once a warning notice has been issued to a busker, any further reports will be investigated by a City of York Council Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer and a decision will be made as to whether enforcement action will be necessary under the following legislation:

  • a York byelaw states that once a busker is informed they are causing annoyance/disturbance, if they fail to make the appropriate changes there is a potential of prosecution
  • the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 states that unreasonable and persistent/continuing behaviour which has a detrimental impact can be dealt with by way
    of a warning, notice, fixed penalty and a prosecution in the magistrate’s court
  • the Control of Pollution Act 1974 states that under no circumstances should amplifiers be operated in the street for any purpose between the hours of 9pm and 8am. Failure to comply can result in prosecution in the magistrate’s court
  • children under 14 are not allowed to busk by law.