City buskers urged to hit the right note
Police will be showing antisocial buskers the yellow card under a new initiative that’s been introduced in the city centre.
Buskers and street performers are very much part of the fabric of the capital throughout the year but particularly through the festival season. The City of Edinburgh Council Wardens and Community Police Officers regularly engage with buskers to ensure that they can perform whilst keeping disruption to residents and businesses to a minimum.
The Council and Police welcome busking and are eager to support this by asking buskers to perform responsibly and refrain from using amplifiers and performing after 9pm. Those who choose to perform at a level that is not acceptable can expect to receive a yellow card warning followed by a fixed penalty notice should they continue to cause annoyance. They could also have their equipment seized if they are found busking antisocially.
Councillor Ian Campbell, Vice-Convener of Culture and Communities for the City of Edinburgh Council said: “Edinburgh is world-renowned for being an artistic city, and the majority of buskers contribute positively to this reputation. Even though street performers aren’t legally required to be licensed by the Council, they are expected to stick to our guidelines and we are engaging with buskers and setting the tone so everyone can live work and visit in harmony.
“Council wardens, Street Ambassadors and Community Officers will be speaking to buskers and giving them a Hit the Right Note card which outlines how responsible buskers can brighten up the city. The cards outline dos and don’ts and are complemented by posters in popular busking areas warning against using amplifiers or busking after 9pm.”
City centre resident Jilly MacLeod is pleased that the guidelines are being promoted. She said: “Buskers are an integral part of life on the High Street, adding a sense of fun to the atmosphere. But there has to be a balance between the needs of residents and those of the buskers, especially since the widespread use of amplifiers. The best way to maintain that balance is to improve communications, giving buskers easy access to council guidelines so they appreciate this is a residential area and know to keep the volume down.
“I spoke to lots of buskers last year, when the noise levels were at their worst, and only about one in ten knew about these guidelines. Even some of the police on the beat didn’t know that busking should finish by 9pm. Things are much better now, with a much more proactive approach to getting the information out there.”
City centre Inspector David Robertson said: “We have dozens of responsible buskers who come to Edinburgh at various times during the year and entertain the crowds – but it is those who cause disruption and annoyance who we are showing the yellow card to.
“It’s not fair on those people living, staying or working in the city centre to be disrupted and we receive a considerable amount of complaints, so we have listened to residents and come up with this scheme. The yellow card that all my officers now have and will give to buskers who are giving reasonable cause for annoyance sets out what the warning is, and what action may be taken if they do not desist – we may seize their equipment and they could be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.
“I would be delighted if my team issues as few of these yellow cards as possible, so I would appeal to those performing on the city’s streets to please be mindful of others. We see this as a pragmatic approach, giving buskers ample opportunity to act sensitively and responsibly towards businesses and local residents.”
Jilly MacLeod added: “I welcome the new police initiative but hope that given the necessary information, few buskers will earn themselves a yellow card. Above all, this isn’t just about the festival, it’s about keeping the balance throughout the year.”
Information for buskers and the public about public performances can be found at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/busking. If anyone is concerned about a busker please speak to one of the many officers on patrol during the festival.