On TV: Abdul and the buskers

sA BRAVE, meet-the-people politician, venturing out of the Town Hall willing to listen to protesters head on? Or the victim of a duff PR call?

Either way, Camden’s community safety chief Councillor Abdul Hai always looked a little vulnerable when he decided to be filmed in Camden Town defending new busking controls just yards from the demonstrators who vehemently want the policy aborted.

Vulnerable, because most people know what campaigning comedian Mark Thomas is like and when the cameras are rolling most get emphatically streamrollered.

Sure enough, halfway through his chat with the BBC on Camden High Street this afternoon, Thomas and protest organiser Jonny Walker came bounding over. You could see a gulp, but Abdul at least kept his cool: none of that, can we turn the cameras off please stuff, which usually makes things worse.

What’s more he didn’t even seem riled when it was suggested he was a ‘stooge’ for council leader Sarah Hayward, who the buskers have made their main target and who was repeatedly namechecked during speeches outside the tube station. Still, you wonder whether Abdul thought at any stage: shouldn’t we have done this down the road a bit….

6 Comments on On TV: Abdul and the buskers

  1. Keith Sedgwick // October 25, 2013 at 10:14 am //

    Oh dear Abdul! Anybody watching this would find it hard to discern whether you are an Officer of the Council or actually a Councillor in charge of the Council. It seems you’ve been spending too much time around the officers and have allowed them to convince you that their stupid idea are yours. Listen to yourself, man! “Stakeholders..blah, blah..process…blah, blah..documents…blah, blah..policy…blah, blah…light-touch…blah, blah…heritage…blah, blah”. You’ve gone native, bruv!

  2. At least Abdul is standing up for Camden residents.
    Buskers are causing noise and nuisance while making
    money at the expense of local resident.

  3. Keith Sedgwick // October 25, 2013 at 11:29 pm //

    Can’t hear them from where I live in Camden and money in a busker’s hat, certainly wasn’t ever heading for my pocket…..

  4. Paul Johnson // October 28, 2013 at 9:58 pm //

    I have watched the interview on the BBC and I am aware of the issues in relation to the buskers causing nuisance and making noise at unsociable hours and places.

    I support your stance and believe a policy is needed to regulate buskers to ensure residents life’s are made more tolerable and that buskers take responsibilities in respecting communities and neighbourhoods, rather then blasting loud noises with the aid of amplification tools. Hence a policy of the kind Abdul is trying to implement will reduce this noise and introduce regulation then the current free for all set up which is very hard upon residents who have to put up with this.

    Please continue in pursuit of such policies, you are indeed a good man trying to better the life’s of the residents, it would be easier for you not to do this- rather you have taken a stance and done the right thing.

    You have my full support,

    Kind regards,

    Member of the Public

  5. Member of the public:

    Councillor Abdul Hai is not protecting residents or their interests. Instead he is grandstanding and advocating stifling pre-emptive punishment against buskers who are a very small part of the noise nuisance in Camden, overwhelmingly caused by large venues, roadworks, traffic noise and nuisance neighbours.

    This policy is badly thought out and exceptionally troubling in its implications. Singing in the streets is now illegal under this policy and musicians face instrument seizures and £1000 fines.

    Musicians were not involved in framing the policy, nor has Councillor Hai made any effort to set up a buskers and residents forum to discuss issues. There were 108 busking complaints last year made by a total of 56 people. In a borough with 220,000 that is not an overwhelming problem.

    At this late stage we are calling upon Camden Council to think again and come up with a fair policy that balances the complaints of a few residents against the cultural vibrancy of Camden town.

  6. Nigel Snookes aka Romanza Rose // January 20, 2014 at 11:38 pm //

    There is a middle ground solution to be had here and it is found in the approach taken by Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon in relation to ‘noise nuiscance’ and street performing.

    I speak as a ‘serious’ Street Performer up here for 3 years now and I can honestly say that councils in both places, have successfully managed to avoid ‘draconian’ policy and serve the interests of Street Performers whilst protecting shops, residents etc on this issue.

    The position that this twin town and city situated at the heart of England have taken is basically a ‘liberal’ pluralistic one and it is one with which I strongly agree.

    Once more I state ‘Councils’ up here uphold the ancient right to freedoms to perform on the street whilst recognising the very ‘real’ problem of noise nuiscance that can not only plague shops, offices, residents etc but can also trouble other performers as well.

    Birmingham did at one stage adopt ‘auditons’ as a measure to curb this problem. In this context I am at odds with the leadership of the ASAP to the extent that they insist that such practices are ‘elitist’.

    My retort is that ‘auditions’ pose more a ‘beauracratic’ nuiscance but are not necessarily ‘elitist’ because in Birmingham they were demonstably used and effective in ‘sifting’ out specific ‘problem’ performers.

    However for me the ‘overall’ best solution and by far the ‘fairest’ was in the introduction of City Warden/ Town Host schemes. This kind of ‘middle-way’ civic solution to street performer noise nuiscancehas worked excellently in both Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon. Shops have been protected form certain performers ( more irresponsible, egotistical, ignorant etc ) whilst a burdgeoning creative
    street art scence has been preserved.

    I support this civic arrangement on the grounds that whilst performers quite rightly desire freedom and spontaneity of performance it is only fair that surrounding shops etc have ‘spontaneous’ access to some help if and when noise problems do crop up. ‘Call and Response’ style city management seem to do the trick.

    Over insistance on relying on existing noise pollution law does not offer a sufficiently ‘immediate’ remedy to victims of noise excess.
    Such actions can be a too long drawn out process, beauracratically cumbersome for all concerned. Warden schemes or with good
    communication ‘Community’ police intervenion are the best solution.

    Conditions obviously do vary from place to place and I can see that there maybe no ‘catch-all’ solution for every town, city and place in the
    country. However looking at the Camden situation as an ‘outsider’ ( neigh inerested and concerned onlooker ) I strongly believe that reason can prevail and a solution for all parties concerned can be found.

    I cite Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon as good models of liberal and ‘progressive’ policy because I’ve witnessed in both of thes places a kind of ‘benign’ and free order emerge out of ‘potential’ chaos. It has taken a lot of carefully built ‘trust’ on all sides.

    For me its a ‘truism’ that when people can successfully ‘police’ themselves ( and I eagerly await that day! ) well ‘then’ let anarchy reign. Until then liberal ‘plural’ policy solutions appear
    the only realisic solution – they are often a long and difficult road to climb, demanding much talk, debate and ‘mutual’ understanding, but when reached, I for one have seen they do work!.

    * A note of Caution though here!

    I do write (above) about Individual responsibility and accountability regarding ‘street performers’ and I do mention places like Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon having Town Host/Warden Scheme’s that do work well as a readily accessible ‘call/response’ security mechanisms for dealing with ‘immediate’ noise problems afflicting shops, offices etc.

    However as a means to dealing with the abject ‘discrimination’, and petty minded grievances that ‘often’ best Street Performers then Town Host/Warden Schemes are not such an ideal solution. There is according to my own experience a ‘detectable’ bias when it comes to dealing with the complaints of ‘buskers’ towards some town/city businesses.

    What most defintitely is unfair in places like Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon despite these places having relatively good ‘busking’ codes in place is the very clear lack of accountability that exists with regards shopowners, retail managers, public service management etc when they themselves could be justly accused of being guilty of abusing ‘buskers’ and mistreating Street Performers.

    In any discussions that may ensue between The Council, ‘stakeholders’ and performers in the future concerning street performing in the area please lets not overlook this important issue
    of social justice. Its an area of concern that I note always tends not
    get discussed, its simply rendered ‘invisible’, does’nt even get a
    comment.

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