Busker turf wars ruining Durham say critics as rival musicians turn up volume to drown out other acts

An acoustic busker performs in Durham

The Durham Pointers, with Giles Radford, second left, and Colin Wilkes, third right

First published in News
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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Durham)

A ROW has broken out over the growing ‘battle of the buskers’ which critics say is ruining a city centre.

Fed-up observers say more and more buskers are competing for space in Durham Market Place, leading to angry turf wars and ever-louder amplification - as rival musicians turn up the volume to be heard over neighbouring acts.

Drowned-out acoustic buskers have been forced out and an X Factor-style quality test has been considered for would-be performers, who are currently free to set up and play without regulation.

Giles Radford, who directs tourists with the Durham Pointers, said his colleagues are struggling to make themselves heard.

“Music is great. It adds variety and atmosphere to the city. But the amplification is annoying.

“It affects people passing through, working in the shops and the Town Hall. You can’t hear yourself speak or think.”

Colin Wilkes, managing director of Durham Markets, added: “It’s getting to the stage where it will have to be regulated.

“There’s an ideal opportunity for some organisation to take it by the scruff of the neck and regulate both the quality and the volume.

“In the summer months a bit of music in the Market Place is marvellous. It adds to the atmosphere and everybody enjoys it but the problem is when you get buskers competing against each other – it becomes a battle of the amplifiers and the true spirit of busking is lost.”

Councillor David Freeman said the issue should be investigated and he would raise it with the council’s environmental health and licensing teams.

“Ideally there would be no more than one busker, otherwise it descends into noise rather than enjoyment.

“It can add to the atmosphere but too many buskers will take away from the atmosphere, because it mingles into one. Perhaps the number of people in one place should be regulated.

“Anything that happens in the Market Place should add to people’s enjoyment of the city, not take away from it. It’s important to get the balance right.”

Joanne Waller, head of environment, health and consumer protection at Durham County Council, said: “Street entertainment is an important part of the vibrant culture and atmosphere which exists in Durham City.

“Buskers and performers help to enrich the experience of visitors to the city, although we would of course encourage acts to ensure noise is kept at an appropriate level.

“We would look at any complaints about noise from buskers on an individual basis.”

Comments (4)

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10:20pm Thu 14 Aug 14

Longbowman666 says...

Totally agree with this - I'm all for street music and innovation, but it's now getting to ridiculous levels in Durham City, with each one trying to get themselves heard above the rest and only succeeding in creating a raucous sound that jars upon the ears and interferes with both the flow of pedestrians and the ability of people to think over the row!
Totally agree with this - I'm all for street music and innovation, but it's now getting to ridiculous levels in Durham City, with each one trying to get themselves heard above the rest and only succeeding in creating a raucous sound that jars upon the ears and interferes with both the flow of pedestrians and the ability of people to think over the row! Longbowman666
  • Score: 8

12:05pm Fri 15 Aug 14

durhamchap says...

There was a man slaughtering a Robbie Williams in the Market place a few days ago.Absolutely excruciating but he obviously thought he was wonderful.I wouldn't ban all the buskers as some are very good but friends of the bad ones should maybe tell them !
There was a man slaughtering a Robbie Williams in the Market place a few days ago.Absolutely excruciating but he obviously thought he was wonderful.I wouldn't ban all the buskers as some are very good but friends of the bad ones should maybe tell them ! durhamchap
  • Score: 8

3:10pm Fri 15 Aug 14

settheworldonfire says...

The council will end up licensing this as they do everything else...D.C.C. MONEY GRABBERS....
The council will end up licensing this as they do everything else...D.C.C. MONEY GRABBERS.... settheworldonfire
  • Score: 4

11:36pm Fri 12 Sep 14

jamieswainston73 says...

I myself have busked in Durham for over 10 years, in fact i am very well know in the city & there is even a mural of the bridge i busk on which is Framwellgate bridge at the rear of the inside of the market hall that has an image of my self and the one man band on it, I have noticed an increase in the number of amplified acts. A certain group of buskers consisting of a keyboard player, a saxophonist and trumpet player who busk in the market place are extremely loud and can be heard from the bottom of Silver Street. However street performance and street art does add to the vibrancy of any town or city. Busking has been a part of the UK for hundreds of years (ever heard of wandering minstrels ?) What is needed here is compromise and fairness from both parties ( eg I was approached by a PCSO in the market place only the other day and asked to stop playing whilst a meeting was going in the town hall and me being the considerate gentleman I am did oblige and stop playing whilst the meeting was going on, common sense) However these Eastern Europeans have no consideration what so ever for other buskers or traders around them, i also think that the problem of hand tappers ( beggars) needs addressing in the city ! As for regulating busking you should perhaps read the following links before imposing such draconian rules.

http://www.lordcleme
ntjones.org/issues/d
eregulate/

http://www.theguardi
an.com/uk/the-northe
rner/2012/aug/09/liv
erpool-buskers-licen
ce-law

http://www.liverpool
echo.co.uk/news/live
rpool-news/liverpool
-council-scrap-contr
oversial-busking-333
5612
I myself have busked in Durham for over 10 years, in fact i am very well know in the city & there is even a mural of the bridge i busk on which is Framwellgate bridge at the rear of the inside of the market hall that has an image of my self and the one man band on it, I have noticed an increase in the number of amplified acts. A certain group of buskers consisting of a keyboard player, a saxophonist and trumpet player who busk in the market place are extremely loud and can be heard from the bottom of Silver Street. However street performance and street art does add to the vibrancy of any town or city. Busking has been a part of the UK for hundreds of years (ever heard of wandering minstrels ?) What is needed here is compromise and fairness from both parties ( eg I was approached by a PCSO in the market place only the other day and asked to stop playing whilst a meeting was going in the town hall and me being the considerate gentleman I am did oblige and stop playing whilst the meeting was going on, common sense) However these Eastern Europeans have no consideration what so ever for other buskers or traders around them, i also think that the problem of hand tappers ( beggars) needs addressing in the city ! As for regulating busking you should perhaps read the following links before imposing such draconian rules. http://www.lordcleme ntjones.org/issues/d eregulate/ http://www.theguardi an.com/uk/the-northe rner/2012/aug/09/liv erpool-buskers-licen ce-law http://www.liverpool echo.co.uk/news/live rpool-news/liverpool -council-scrap-contr oversial-busking-333 5612 jamieswainston73
  • Score: 2

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