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Busted for busking
The Edinburgh Old Town Association wants to introduce registration for buskers to keep the peace during unsocial hours
Rosalind Brown
Wednesday, 26 January, 2011 | 00:21

A proposal has recently been put forward to create an official register of street performers busking on the streets of Edinburgh.

Current legislation cites that buskers do not need a license unless selling merchandise, however, recent developments mean that buskers are coming under threat in Edinburgh’s Old Town.

Community safety leader Councillor Paul Edie said: “On those very rare occasions where there may be a problem, the police have powers to deal with that and we see no reason to change the system or introduce new regulations.”

The Edinburgh Old Town Association recently circulated a newsletter claiming that buskers were disturbing the peace of residents in the area. The newsletter reported stories of 'people playing bongo drums, night after night at the same spot' and 'a loud singer performing a limited repertoire over and over again for up to three hours.'

The famous busker turned successful artist Jimi McRae was known for his Braveheart image and bare-chested performances outside St. Giles' Cathedral.

McRae stated: “I see no harm in the Edinburgh Old Town Association taking an active interest in buskers in the Royal Mile and city centre. Street performers are an integral part of city life for the thousands of overseas visitors who flock to Edinburgh each year.

“A so-called ‘register of buskers’ could be useful in ensuring decent standards of street entertainment were maintained and, in the case of musicians including pipers, basic levels of musical competency had been attained.

“Also, in the case of busking, can you really regulate something that owes so much of its appeal to good old fashioned spontaneity? In my opinion registers and controls have had an extremely negative effect on the quality of street entertainment at the Edinburgh International Festival in recent years. I’d hate to see similar restrictions having an adverse impact on year-round city buskers.”

Busking in Edinburgh could soon be restricted to office hours. Establishing standards of busking is difficult for an administration.

As Mr McRae stated: “What sounds good to one person could be anathema to another.” 

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