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There’s a plan to ban busking in Kensington and Chelsea

Alexandra Sims

The streets of Kensington and Chelsea may well be a little quieter than normal if a plan insisting all street performers buy a license before they can take to the pavement goes ahead. Under the plans, there’ll be around 100 permits available for performers on a first-come-first-serve basis. Those who miss out will then join a waiting list for revoked or surrendered licenses. There’ll be no auditions for the places, but for a chance to get strumming in the street you’ll have to prove you're legit and ‘providing a genuine performance’ – so no miming, eh?

The clampdown has come about after businesses and residents in the area complained about rising numbers of performers trying their luck on the pavements. A report on the plans says that ‘it has proved difficult for enforcement officers to attribute anti-social behaviour to an individual busker’, so busking will be licensed across the whole borough, initially for a trial period of two months, covering all types of performers including musicians, living statues and even mimes. 

Although Camden council caused a right hoo-hah when they deemed unlicensed busking by musicians a criminal offence, this is the first time a London authority has proposed a complete ban on all types of unlicensed street performing. The Keep Streets Live campaign said the plan is ‘a full-frontal assault on the idea of spontaneous street culture’.

Image: Darren Cowley/Flickr.

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