Council calls time on buskers

Richard Smetchurst, left and Paul Denny perform in Trafalgar St. The city council wants to limit buskers  to 30-minute slots

Richard Smetchurst, left and Paul Denny perform in Trafalgar St. The city council wants to limit buskers to 30-minute slots

Buskers who line the streets during summer will bring colour and life to the city, but only in 30-minute slots.

A 30-minute limit on busking has been included in a new Nelson City Council bylaw, after councillors debated extending the current limit to one hour but chose to keep it at half that.

The new urban environments bylaw brings together a number of old NCC bylaws and the drafting process gives councillors the chance to change or update old regulations.

Councillors also decided to keep the requirement for buskers to register their name and contact details with the council before hitting the streets.

Councillor Kate Fulton said buskers should be able to decide impromptu to go and busk without having to register with the council.

"They should have to approach businesses around them and that's it.

"Let the people around them determine how long they can be there for. We should be encouraging busking to be happening in a really spontaneous way."

Councillor Pete Rainey said registering with the council was a simple task, especially as buskers could get away with leaving a message on the council's answerphone.

"I get really frustrated when people go out and play really badly. People should have to register to take it seriously."

He said the time limit was not a major issue and if people were good enough they would just move around the city.

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The bylaw states buskers can only stay in the same spot for 30 minutes of any two-hour period, therefore they could busk in one spot for 30 minutes and move a few metres up the road.

The bylaw also states buskers cannot affect free movement along the footpath, use offensive language, generate noise that disturbs "the peace, comfort and/or convenience" of the public in the opinion of an enforcement officer and they must get consent from the manager of the shop they are adjacent to. If a busker does not comply with the bylaw they receive a verbal warning and if that is ignored their gear may be seized and impounded.

Council chief executive Clare Hadley said the bylaw was a backstop in the event of nuisance and there would "not be anyone standing outside with a map or a watch". The regulations are enforced by way of complaints to the council.

 - The Nelson Mail


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