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Crackdown on Chester buskers who give listeners earache

Published date: 07 May 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A CRACKDOWN on noisy buskers will be carried out after more than 100 complaints were made to the council.

Buskers who turn a deaf ear to the city’s ‘Street Entertainers’ code will be shown the red card by Cheshire West and Chester Council.

The new measure is part of the council’s ambition to develop the attraction of talented street entertainers as a vibrant part of the city’s cultural offer.

While most buskers are popular with visitors that stream into Chester from all over the world, those failing to control their decibel level have led to the large number of complaints to the authority.

To try and strike the right note, the council is asking performers to adhere to the code to minimise the risk of causing annoyance.

The code requests buskers to choose locations carefully; not to play for more than an hour at a single location and not to include drumming – unless it is a minor but important part of the performance.

It also warns amplified music or singing at a level which prompt complaints is unacceptable and that entertainers who appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol will not be allowed.

Buskers causing annoyance – an offence under a local bylaw – will be handed the red card by enforcement officers, requiring them to stop playing immediately and for the rest of the day within Chester. Failure to comply risks prosecution.

In addition, amplification at The Cross is banned due to frequent complaints and the proximity of St Peter’s Church Quiet Room.

Cllr Lynn Riley, executive member for localities, said: “Chester has some very talented buskers bringing vibrancy to the city’s streets with their playing and are very much part of the city’s cultural offer.

“Sadly, however, some of their colleagues are a little out of tune with their surroundings and the code and we are simply trying to encourage a common sense compromise that will please everyone.”

“Many of the complaints received by the authority come from businesses subjected to hours of noisy music without a break emanating from the same spot outside their premises.”

Chester’s buskers offer a variety of entertainment via wind and string instruments ranging from a baby grand piano, violin and cello to electric guitars, ukulele, keyboards and drums.

On any one day, the city can offer anything from a tin whistle solo to a full rock group.
City centre Cllr Sam Dixon said: “Buskers can bring a special charm to Chester city centre – but unfortunately some don’t.

“It’s important to recognise and encourage talent but we really need to make sure our street musicians are entertaining and not annoying.”

The code stresses that the council welcomes ‘law abiding and considerate’ entertainers and lays out comprehensive guidelines for street performances.

These range from safety regulations for fire eaters to a reminder that entertainers should not use ancient monuments for their performances or block footpaths or entrances to buildings.

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