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Joint Statement on Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea's New Proposals for Busking

The MU has serious concerns over Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea's recently published consultation and its potential effects on busking. Members are encouraged to have their say by responding to the council’s consultation.

Photo ofNatalie Witts-Kilshaw
By Natalie Witts-Kilshaw Published: 04 January 2021 | 4:10 PM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:32 PM
Photograph of a busker, their head isn't visible but they are wearing blue jeans and holding a plugged in electric guitar. In the background an open guitar case has money collected in it.
Busking is not illegal nor is it anti-social and should not be made so. Busking brings vibrancy, culture, dynamic and art to the streets of London. Photo credit: Shutterstock

The MU, Equity and Keep Streets Live have released a joint statement regarding the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea's proposal.

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) are currently consulting to increase the number of pitches where busking could be controlled by way of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO). If agreed, this further draconian attempt at regulation could devastate busking in the Borough at a time where realistically the streets are the only place performers can make a living.

We have tried to encourage a collaborative approach with the Council and have suggested numerous viable alternatives. We also predicted the issue of displacement, amongst others, in the previous consultation but our experience and understanding were dismissed.

Busking is not illegal nor is it anti-social and should not be made so. Busking brings vibrancy, culture, dynamic and art to the streets of London. Furthermore, without busking the UK would arguably not have some of the big headline artists that contribute culturally and economically to the UK.

The Council themselves state that they recognise “the contribution that busking and street entertainment can make to the character of the Borough and the vibrancy that busking and street entertainment can bring to a locality” yet continue to attempt to criminalise busking in a borough where the arts dominate the local culture.

We urge RBKC to talk to and work with us to develop a strategy that does not stifle or control the rights of the individual to perform but is proportionate and reasonable and supports all stakeholders.

How to get involved

To have your say and to view detailed maps of the proposed variations please visit the Busking Consultation webpage. The consultation is live until 8 January 2021.

The consultation responses will inform next steps and any changes to future policy. We encourage members to have their say by visiting the consultation page and filling out the survey.

If you're not sure what to include in your response, you're welcome to copy or rewrite our main concerns:

  • Busking is not a nuisance, or illegal, nor is it anti-social and should not be made so.
  • Increasing the number of controlled zones will have a devastating impact on the busking community and the cultural ethos of RBKC.
  • RBKC should engage all stakeholders and organisations to develop a strategy that does not suppress or control the rights of the individual to perform.

The consultation will run until Friday 8 January 2021.

If you are a busker in RBKC and have any concerns or questions, please contact your Regional Office.

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