Musician highlights busking red tape

PUBLISHED: 11:00 24 July 2011

James Bennett performing on Weston's High Street

James Bennett performing on Weston's High Street

A GUITARIST has criticised the amount of 'red tape' needed to busk in Weston's town centre after being told he couldn't perform with an amplifier.

James Bennett said although he has now secured a permit to play from Weston Town Centre Partnership (TCP), he was unable to play effectively as he needs an amplifier to be heard.

The 25-year-old said the rules meant some performers were forced to play illegally by using amplifiers. They are quickly moved away by the police, only to return the next day.

Mr Bennett, who is also a music tutor and is regularly hired to play Spanish guitar at private events, said: “I make a living out of playing and teaching music, so I thought I’d try to do busking as a new way of earning money.

“I started busking in High Street and I had bought an amp as my guitar would be drowned out otherwise.

“For a few days I just played on the street, but then police officers told me I needed public liability and a buskers’ licence to perform there.

“I got that from the TCP, but then I went back into the High Street to play and was told that I couldn’t play with an amplifier - something I hadn’t been told by the TCP.”

He continued: “In Bath there aren’t any restrictions on playing with an amplifier, and I think it adds to the atmosphere there.

“But because of the red tape here you can’t just play, so some people do it illegally, get moved on by the police, and then just go back and do it again the next day.

“I just don’t think it makes sense to have a ban on amplifiers as sometimes, as with my guitar, it is needed, and some instruments which don’t need one, such as saxophones, will be louder but not be affected by the ban.”

No-one from the Town Centre Partnership was available to comment on the rules.

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