The Mayor of Liverpool has announced an extensive review of the city’s street entertainment policy, with the aim of bringing forward amended proposals.
Discussions with all stakeholders – including representatives of the busking community – follow a legal challenge to the recently introduced policy.
It had included the introduction of permits, an increase in the number of official pitches and a booking system designed to make the system fairer by giving more buskers the opportunity to perform.
Mayor Joe Anderson said: “Buskers are an essential part of the vibrancy of Liverpool City Centre and, contrary to some of the misleading and overblown commentary about the changes, it was never our intention to limit their activity.
“The aim was to put arrangements in place which would benefit buskers by bringing about a fairer system which gave opportunities to more performers and increased the public’s enjoyment of the city centre atmosphere.
“What we were aiming to do was tackle issues such as loud music blasting out for hours on end which city centre businesses rightly complain to us about.
“This policy was agreed at the beginning of June at a public meeting of the Cabinet, after consultation and input from a number of interested parties, including buskers.
“In August a written objection was received from lawyers acting on behalf of one of the buskers, threatening legal proceedings. As well as contesting the overall policy, the lawyers also brought a completely unnecessary emergency application to try and prevent us from reserving the right to restrict an area for busking activity for health and safety reasons at the Mathew Street Music Festival. The Judge threw out that application and found in our favour, agreeing that we had the right to take those steps, given our concern for public safety.
“While I am satisfied that the proposed policy is lawful and reasonable, I am more than willing to listen to the comments and observations of those who have some concerns.
“It was always intended to be subject to review and so we will now hold one, to which all interested parties will be invited to contribute.
“I have never seen the necessity of legal proceedings, as the city council has been more than willing to engage with the parties involved, but the court timetable now in place as a result of proceedings having been issued, would mean that our review would have to be completed in a relatively short time to avoid having to go back to court. That obviously places a time constraint on the review and I don’t want it to be rushed in any way, or for anybody to feel they have not had an opportunity to have their say.
“The common sense approach is for us to agree not to implement the policy so that the unnecessary court proceedings, with the associated costs for both sides, can be brought to an end and we can instead get on with working together to deliver a solution which will satisfy everyone. I am therefore instructing the City Solicitor to contact the Solicitors who brought the Judicial Review proceedings immediately to agree an Order to be put before the court which will stop the legal proceedings “