Buskers have vowed to fight on after “draconian” new rules will ban any music or singing near the museums in South Kensington which attract millions of tourists a year.
A tough new public spaces protection order will mean mime and music is allowed in Exhibition Road outside the Natural History and V&A Museums, but not singing or music.
Some buskers said the move by Kensington and Chelsea council were “draconian” and the “most authoritarian use of a PSPO” so far in the country.
Busker Genial, who lives near the museums and did not want give his full name said: “I will carry on.
“There are always going to be complaints.”
He said: “People enjoy it because it takes away their troubles and it puts a spring in their step and helps them.”
He has played his steel drum pan in the street for the past five years.
He said he has some sympathy with people disliking loud stereos however .
Another busker who brings along a stereo to accompany his bubble blowing act said: “The sound is nothing compared with the road.
“The construction noise was here for ages and no one complained. Builders can make noise and artists can not?”
The street performer is studying policy making at university and says his busking over the last few years helps pay his way. “I pay my taxes, ” he added.
“No one asks people for money. We give them tourist advice too,” he said.
The council is bringing in the tough rules near the museums in South Kensington which are designated red areas.
Elsewhere in spots including Portobello Road, near the market, Hans Crescent, near Harrods department store and spots outside Earls Court and High Street Kensington station buskers will be able to make music. However they have to keep the noise down and stop after 45 minutes.
They also have to perform “a varied repertoire” after the council heard complaints.
One museum research scientist who replied to its consultation said “many buskers have highly repetitive sets that are equivalent to torture – four tunes played on repeat for two hours.”
They said they found the noise “very stressful, because it ruins concentration”.
The protection orders won the backing of 52 people, whilst 25 opposed them.
One busker warned the council “The plans will turn RBKC into a virtual no-go area for buskers and street entertainment.”
People will face fines of £100 and could face bills of up to £1,000 if they breach the PSPO.
A visitor said the council was listening to the “shrill minority.”
Over the years the number of complaints about buskers has scaled the heights from 243 in 2014 to an almost fivefold increase of 1,013 last year.
People said they were fed up of a “limited, repetitive repertoire” with buskers playing the same song “over and over again”. They also said they didn’t like sound clash when several buskers were playing at the same time near each other and noisy performances .
Residents complain most about morning and evening busking, whilst businesses find it more disturbing during the day.
The council worked with Busk in London which encourages performers to move on after 44 minutes.
Just 10% of replies to its survey came from buskers, with another 10% from visitors. The rest of the replies came from residents and businesses and their employees.
The council’s Conservative leadership team approved the plans on Wednesday. (JULY 10)
The rules will run for three years.
By Julia Gregory