Judge backs council on busker curbs


The old railway bridge at Camden Lock market in London.

New licensing restrictions on buskers in Camden have been declared lawful by the High Court.

Comedians Mark Thomas and Bill Bailey and musician Billy Bragg are among celebrities who took to the streets to protest over the restrictions being introduced by the local council in the north London borough after noise complaints by local residents.

Busking without a licence is to become a criminal offence in Camden punishable with fines of up to £1,000.

Bragg, who spent his early career busking around London, said licensing would hurt a fundamental aspect of UK culture.

But Mrs Justice Patterson, sitting in London, ruled today Camden Council had adopted a policy that was "both necessary and a proportionate response to the issue of busking".

The ruling was a defeat for the Keeping Streets Live Campaign, which was ordered to pay £7,500 in legal costs.

David Wolfe QC, appearing for the campaign group, asked for permission to appeal, arguing that today's ruling raised important legal issues and would have an impact on street entertainment across London.

The judge refused permission, which means the campaigners will now have to consider asking the Court of Appeal itself to hear their case.

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