Council investigating use of Public Spaces Protection Order to control Harrogate busking

Buskers in Harrogate
Buskers in Harrogate

Harrogate Borough Council has confirmed it is investigating whether it could use the new Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to control town centre busking.

Busking has become a prominent issue this past month after the Advertiser filmed two groups of performers playing over each other outside Marks and Spencer.

This argument was then followed by a viral video of a shop worker confronting a set of buskers on Cambridge Street, claiming that they were affecting the business.

Speaking at a Full Council meeting last week, Coun Mike Chambers, cabinet member for Housing and Safer Communities said some of the busking could be classed as Anti Social Behaviour (ASB).

Coun Chambers admitted the issue was a concern to the council and said officers were now investigating whether it could fall under the remit of the new PSPO to control it.

He said: “If there are ASB incidents or these people are causing offence, police do have the powers to move them on and I hope they do if this is the case.

“I’m concerned myself that this could lead to difficulties that we could well do without as we have enough issues with ASB in the district which we are looking at stamping out.

“However, at this time of year it does bring a festive feel to the town, especially on Cambridge Street. But it can be difficult for some people, especially if they think it’s affecting their business.”

While there is no recourse in law to stop buskers, Coun Chambers said the council were also investigating a voluntary localising scheme to control where buskers play.

Martin Rose has been busking in Harrogate and across Yorkshire for the past six months. He said that, on the whole, people have enjoyed his performances.

However, he admitted that the situation in Harrogate is now becoming a mess as more people take up busking to cope with the economic climate.

He said: “It used to be that you had one or two buskers in a town but now more people feel the need to busk to promote their music.

“There has been a massive increase in Harrogate busking but in York there’s a code of conduct which seems to work rather well.

“Busking works well in somewhere like York as it’s always happened but in Harrogate the massive increase in the amount of buskers has created a problem.

“Plenty of people make a living out of it. It decorates the street space for people when they are wandering round.

“However I do understand where people are coming from who complain about it.

“But the PSPO threat is a worry for buskers and other people who use the street as a business.”