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A Green light for Westminster’s new busking policy

Date: 
Wed, 09/12/2020

A carefully developed range of proposals to manage busking and street entertainment across the centre of the City of Westminster has been formally approved today by Westminster City Council. This gives a green light for a policy that is balanced, flexible, with an open door for discussion and collaboration.  

Performances from musicians, comedians, artists and dancers have long since been a tradition for parts of Westminster, providing entertainment for all ages and for visitors from around the world. However, along with the vibrancy this brings, busking and street entertainment can also be a cause of noise, obstruction and public safety issues in busy parts of the city. In recent years, the council has received around 2,200 complaints a year from residents, visitors and local businesses.  

To address some of these concerns, Westminster Council sought to create a light-touch, balanced, and adaptive set of measures to improve the environment for street entertainers, for those listening to and watching them, and for those living and working nearby. These proposals, which came as a result of intensive and thorough engagement over the past two years, were today formally approved by a meeting of full council.  

The new policy will help to create a wide range of positive and supportive measures, including; 

A universal code of conduct - aiming to ensure that safety and consideration of both the local community and performers is paramount.   

Designated pitches and performance areas - to manage crowding issues and competition for performance space

A licensing system - to support and protect performers and to clarify the process for the council when dealing with concerns or complaints from residents, businesses, and performers themselves.   

Cllr Heather Acton, Cabinet Member for Public Protection & Licensing said:  

“The approval of these proposals marks the first step towards an improved, well managed environment for this street entertainment tradition. The Council will offer support to the street performance community, and also address the many complaints received each year from residents and businesses over noise disruption and overcrowding.  

“We have engaged extensively with some of the many respondents – over 900 to the most recent consultation and will continue to do so. We shall keep the policy under close review to ensure that the approach is balanced, flexible and collaborative.  We want a framework that operates in the best interests of street entertainers and local residents and businesses.”   

As well as introducing licensing, the council will promote membership of the Westminster Busking and Street Entertainment Forum, and also encourage performers to adhere to a Code of Conduct that aims to ensure their acts are safe and they are considerate of both the local community and other performers.  

After a period of further consultation to ensure that the new policies can be introduced into the areas as proposed, the new system for busking and street entertainment in Westminster will come into effect in Spring 2021.   

Further details on the proposals can be found on the Westminster City Council website at www.westminster.gov.uk/busking.     

ENDS 

Last updated: 10 December 2020