Those visiting Camden in the next few months may well find the streets a little quieter than usual thanks to a law that deemed unlicensed busking a criminal offence, which was passed late last year following a series of persistent complaints from a group of local residents.
As part of the new scheme, those caught giving us their best interpretation of Hendrix’s ‘Hey Joe’ could receive fines of up to £1,000, have their instruments confiscated and even sold off if they fail to pay the fine within 28 days.
The plan has generated a considerable backlash with comedians Mark Thomas and Bill Bailey joining with musicians Billy Bragg and Jon Gomm to denounce the laws, stating that they would stand to erode an important part of British culture.
A petition against the law has now been signed by over 6,000 people and campaign group ‘Keep Streets Live!’ has also joined the fight to prevent the legislation arguing that it breaches an article of the human rights act.
In spite of such strong feeling against the proposed regulation, Johnny Walker, head of the ASAP (Association of Street Artists and Performers) has suggested that the council is only implementing such an unpopular scheme to please a small minority of wealthy locals; and with only 108 complaints being made about noise pollution in an area of 220,000 it’s hard to argue with him.
In response to the ruling, Meet and Jam have joined forces with Keep Streets Live! to organise a protest jam this Sunday (March 23) outside HSBC, Britannia Junction, Camden. The aim of the event is to highlight just how integral Camden’s community of musicians is to the Borough’s cultural identity and whether you play a banjo or a French horn, everyone is encouraged to take part. Hari Sethi
For more info on the event visit meetandjam.com