Search

Photo gallery: Bill Bailey and Billy Bragg lead protest against Camden’s busking license plans

14:34 25 October 2013

Bill Bailey, Billy Bragg and Mark Thomas busking in Camden Town. Picture: Polly Hancock

Bill Bailey, Billy Bragg and Mark Thomas busking in Camden Town. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Comedian Bill Bailey and musician Billy Bragg joined campaigners in Camden High Street to rally against council proposals to impose stricter rules on busking.

The duo, who were also joined by comedian Mark Thomas and singer-songwriter Jon Gomm, led crowds in acoustic performances of their own songs as well as kazoo-led renditions of the Star Wars Imperial Death March and Jerusalem yesterday.

The stars’ support for the second protest within weeks came as Camden Council put forward proposals to licence busking following complaints by some residents over levels of noise.

Under the new proposals, amplification equipment would be banned and buskers wishing to perform with wind or percussion instruments - including the kazoo - would need to get permission from the council and buy a special licence.

Those caught without a licence could face a fine of up to £1,000 and risk having their instruments confiscated or even sold.

Mr Bailey, who led the crowd in an up tempo sing-along of California Dreamin’ by The Mamas and the Papas, said the plans were “draconian and set a dangerous precedent”.

“Busking is the ultimate in freedom of expression,” he said. “It’s the first opportunity you get to perform in a public place when you’re first starting out.

“I myself busked around Europe and the UK and Eddie Izzard started his career as a street performer.

“So if you’re putting people off at an early stage then it curtails the arts.”

Mr Bragg, who praised Camden for being “vibrant and alive”, said busking was often the only way for people to get themselves known.

“It’s the central part of not only the British spirit but the human spirit to keep the streets open for people to go out and give things a go.

“That’s what busking is about - it’s like the people’s X-Factor. It would be terrible if Camden ended up becoming another dull and dead backwater place because of this.”

Emily Lee, 26, a full-time musician, who lives in Holloway Road, said her own livelihood relied heavily on public street performances.

Although she usually busks around the Embankment, she said her first time performing in Camden left her in tears.

“I came to sing on Camden High Street back in June and the experience means I don’t ever want to come back,” she said.

“After telling me to turn down my amplifier, which I happily did, community officers threatened me with a £2,500 fine and with having my instruments confiscated.

“I started to cry as my instruments were my livelihood.”

But Cllr Abdul Hai, Camden cabinet member for community safety, said the plans were justified.

He said: “We believe that all forms of street entertainment are an important part of the musical and cultural heritage of the borough.

“However, in recent months we have received an escalating number of complaints from local residents regarding disruptive busking activity, particularly where amplification is used in residential areas.

“When we did our consultation the vast majority of our residents supported the draft policy.”

A vote on the suggested proposals is expected at the full council meeting on November 11.

0 comments

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 17:50
The damage done by the fire, which firefighters say was caused by joss sticks. Picture: London Fire Brigade

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has warned of the risk posed by joss sticks after a fire broke out at a Kentish Town flat yesterday.

Yesterday, 13:52
Lynne Featherstone after her election defeat in May. Picture: John Macdonald-Fulton

Former Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone will enter the House of Lords as a life peer having lost her parliamentary seat in May.

Yesterday, 12:36
Ford Keeble. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

A counter-terrorism security expert has waged war on Haringey Council after being fined for simply driving into his own home.

Yesterday, 07:00
Marc Samuels. Picture: Polly Hancock.

A wealthy property developer has paid a powerful planning authority £180,000 to keep a basement swimming pool and gym which he built under his home in a conservation area without permission.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Shop till you drop!

Home to top name brands at great prices, TK Maxx is more like a treasure hunt than a shop. Perfect for grabbing a bargain or some hidden gems, you arm yourself with a trolley and go wild.

Scones, jam and a cup of Earl Grey anyone?

Luxury boutique hotel Flemings Mayfair has recently launched The Drawing Room, London’s most stylish location for afternoon tea.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder