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Buskers threatened with confiscation and destruction of instruments under new powers by Canterbury City Council

By KentOnline reporter

A code of conduct has been drawn up which street entertainers will have to adhere to or face sanctions including warning notices, fines or forfeiture.

But one of Canterbury’s most successful bands, Coco and the Butterfields, who made their name busking in the city, have urged the authority not to be overzealous.

A busker collecting money

A busker collecting money

Tom Twyman, 25, who founded the group two years ago, said: “I am worried the council has not actually talked to buskers.

“The new code [says] buskers should only perform for an hour in the same place. That is ridiculous and suggests the council is ignorant of how busking works.

“It wouldn’t be worth performers coming to Canterbury because they couldn’t earn enough.

“It is true the city has become very popular for busking, and sometimes there can be too many of them too close together.

“But I just hope the council uses these powers fairly and sparingly. Many acts, like ourselves, start out busking and shouldn’t be discouraged.”

The council’s head of neighbourhood services, Doug Rattray, has written a report that will be considered by Canterbury councillors tomorrow.

In it, he says: “The council welcomes buskers and other forms of street entertainment as performers can enhance the atmosphere in the city centre.

Busker's instruments could be trashed under Canterbury's plans

Buskers' instruments could be trashed under Canterbury's plans

“But the council continues to receive complaints about buskers as to the volume, duration and, above all, amplification.

“One way to have dealt with this would have been to create a by-law, forbidding the use of amplified music.

“Such a measure would, of course, have been arbitrary and preclude an assessment of nuisance effect.

"A policy allowing scope for discussion and management of the behaviour of individual buskers would be preferable.

“The recent introduction of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act provides a better solution.

“The process allows a flexible approach and the opportunity to agree a reasonable standard of behaviour.

“If a proportionate strategy fails, the council has the ability to act expeditiously, robustly and transparently to provide a remedy to the nuisance being endured.”

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