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Comedian to stand up to Camden busking laws as Green Party council candidate

Ben Van der Velde. Ben Van der Velde.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
4:45 PM

A stand-up comedian opposed to Camden Council’s new busking licensing laws is hoping to be elected as a Green Party councillor in May’s elections.

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Ben Van der Velde, 30, has been selected to stand for the Greens in Camden Town with Primrose Hill.

The Oxford University graduate, who has lived in Camden Town for four years, performs stand-up routines in clubs across the UK and appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe festival in 2012.

He felt compelled to stand as a councillor following Camden Council’s decision in November to introduce rules requiring buskers to purchase annual licences if they want to perform on the streets.

He said: “The first time I ever visited London on my own I headed straight for Camden Town - it’s a Mecca for music-lovers and young people the world over.

“I had an hour to kill before friends turned up so I got out my guitar and started playing – an innocent, creative and friendly act by a new kid in town.

“Thanks to the ludicrous new legislation put in place, if I did that now I’d be committing a criminal offence punishable by a £1,000 fine and the seizure of my guitar – unless I’d first bought a licence and waited 20 working days for a council panel to decide whether I was a ‘fit and proper person’ to busk!”

On February 27 and 28, busking campaigners will bring a judicial review of Camden Council’s licensing laws to the High Court.

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