Tuesday 27 September 2016

Buskers facing amplifier ban after permits fail to quieten complaints

Published 08/03/2016 | 08:22

Buskers with amplifiers. (Photo posed by models)
Buskers with amplifiers. (Photo posed by models)

A ban on buskers using amplifiers in the city could now come into effect after continuing complaints about noise levels.

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While a permit system was brought in almost a year ago to introduce a code of practice for buskers, including a maximum decibel level, noise complaints are still a major cause for ­concern.

A review of the Street Performers Bye-Laws, seen by the Herald, has now proposed a total ban on amplifiers, and also on backing music.

"Complaints are not only coming from city shoppers and shop door staff such as security workers, but also from retailers and offices who say they are forced to listen to songs being played loudly over and over by buskers," said Cllr Mannix Flynn.

Permit

Under the permit system, buskers have to register with the council for a nominal charge and agree to a code of practice which specifies they cannot play in the one place for more than two hours and they cannot exceed sound limits of 80 decibels, or 75 decibels in the Temple Bar area.

Buskers currently pay €30 each for a permit, or €60 if they are using amplifiers. More than 470 performance permits and 250 amplification permits were issued by the council.

As part of the code of conduct introduced with the permit system last April, it was decided that buskers who persistently play loud music would have their permits revoked by Dublin City Council.

But in a move that many buskers will not favour, it has now been decided to recommend an amplifier ban.

Of submissions made to the council on busking, 83pc identified excessive noise as the main issue, according to the report.

"The introduction of a maximum decibel level had only a partial effect and proved extremely difficult to enforce," the report says.

"Having reviewed the matter in the context of not just this public consultation but our experience over the last number of years it is now the view of Management that the use of amplification and backing tracks must be banned entirely."

The report and its recommendations will now be ­submitted for the consideration of the members of the Arts Strategic Policy Committee.

Other recurring issues related to performers outstaying the permitted time, causing congestion, the sale of merchandise, and lack of talent or repertoire.

This has led to another proposal that dance troupes, circle acts, and bands of more than three members may not perform on Grafton Street between the junction at Nassau Street and Suffolk Street, and the junction at South King Street and St Stephen's Green.

"The streets are for everybody to enjoy and we have to mindful of the visually impaired also as they try to navigate the pavements," said Cllr Flynn.

Herald

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