A BUSKING crackdown is set to be launched in Worcester city centre - including limiting them to 45 minutes in "any one place".
A new 'Code of Conduct' has been drawn up by council chiefs aimed at limiting the street entertainers influence.
The new rules, created in response to concern from some shopkeepers, include:
- A maximum of 45 minutes in any one spot, before they must leave all areas 'within a 50-metre radius' for two hours
- No busking before 8am or after 9pm and a ban on any signs inviting people to pay them money
- An agreement to stop performing or move on if requested by a city council worker, police or Worcester's Business Improvement District (BID)
- No busker cited within 50 metres from another busker, and away from bank machines and public telephones
The dossier has been criticised by some shoppers, who say they fear it will be "overbearing" and could put buskers off.
But leading councillors say the blueprint will make the rules clear, particularly around the High Street where some retailers have been concerned about excessive noise.
Busker Paul Thomas, 30, who used to be homeless but now lives in a flat in Lowesmoor, said: "I come into town and play my guitar, there's nothing wrong with that.
"I see people who claim they are busking sell art, to me that's a market stall and not a busker.
"Limiting it to 45 minutes wouldn't bother me as long as I could find another good spot."
Shopper Lisa Holmes, 51, from Tallow Hill, said: "It's a bit like begging but if they want to play music I don't see any issue with it, I wouldn't want the council to be overbearing."
The code has been drawn up in draft form, but is due to be finalised over the coming weeks after more consultation with third parties.
It also includes references to noise not being louder than the general 'street ambience', and a ban on buskers using street furniture as a prop like lampposts or benches.
Cllr Simon Cronin, vice-chairman of Worcester City Council's licensing and environmental health committee, which has backed the rules, said: "We know the problem is that inevitably this comes down to a selective judgement as to whether people think a busker is good or not.
"The council tends to get very few complaints from the public but for some businesses it can be frustrating.
"The code is sensible and I look forward to seeing it implemented."
* What do you think - does Worcester have too many buskers or do they need to tackled? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01905 742248.