London council announces crackdown on buskers after thousands of noise complaints

2 August 2023, 14:28 | Updated: 3 August 2023, 11:32

5,070 complaints were made between April 2021 to May 2023
5,070 complaints were made between April 2021 to May 2023. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

A London council has announced a crackdown on buskers after receiving thousands of noise complaints.

Westminster Council said it had received more than five thousand complaints between April 2021 and May 2023, most of which were noise related.

Other complaints centred around obstruction and playing longer than they were scheduled to.

Leicester Square was listed as an area that requires "urgent action".

Current council powers are not strong enough for them to step in immediately without police involvement.

Busking in Leicester Square could be banned
Busking in Leicester Square could be banned. Picture: Getty

Plans proposed by Westminster Council include restricting the use of amplification equipment during the week or even a full ban of busking in Leicester Square.

But the council would prefer to avoid imposing bans and instead work with buskers and entertainers to minimise noise pollution.

Speaking at a meeting on the issue, Cllr Mark Shearer said: "If you look at the noise complaints you’ll see that it just hasn’t worked as a collaborative approach.

"It’s clear that the current licensing scheme just doesn’t go far enough to safeguard local amenities, especially in Leicester Square."

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The council has also reiterated its commitment to respecting the cultural significance of busking in the UK.

Cllr Aicha Less, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities, Public Protection and Licensing said:" Buskers and street entertainers are a vibrant part of our city's culture and a popular attraction for tourists throughout Westminster.

"However, we need to strike a balance so that residents and businesses are not unduly impacted with noisy performances or crowds causing disruption.”

“This report is a review into the current licensing scheme and no final decision has been taken. The options and findings within the review will be subject to consultation with businesses, residents, and performers.

"This will ensure that all parties involved have the opportunity contribute, whilst taking into consideration public safety, access, and nuisance.”

“The findings of this report will be subject to further dialogue before any decision is taken and we will continue to engage with all our licensed street entertainers, our residents and our businesses when we are ready to consult on future proposals.”