A NEW guide on buskers has come into force in Worcester in a bid to make sure they don't annoy shop owners and passers-by.

Worcester City Council's Labour leadership has voted through its detailed guide for the street performers, which encourages them to stop every 45 minutes for a 15-minute break.

The updated blueprint has been watered down after feedback, and no longer asks buskers to move elsewhere after 45 minutes and seek a new pitch at least 50 metres away.

Instead, the entertainers are encouraged to perform for 'roughly' two hours or less, including a break at 45 minutes, before going to another site.

During a cabinet meeting, Labour councillors referred to it as a 'code of conduct' but stressed that it is voluntary, and will need the support of buskers in order to work.

But they also said developments like Worcester's emerging £20 million Cathedral Square means they must get the city centre ambience absolutely right.

The code also says the sounds 'should not be intrusive into the lives of others living or working nearby', with no amplification between 9pm-8am.

Under the guide, people who find themselves annoyed are encouraged to 'approach the busker directly' and come to a compromise.

For those still unhappy, they can ring the council directly who can take further action - including asking the busker to attend a 'dispute resolution panel'.

Under the code, they can then be given formal warning letters, a fixed penalty notice or even legal action as a 'last resort', and see equipment confiscated.

But leading councillors say they believe it will not go that far, and insist the guide is aimed to appeasing both sides.

Councillor Geoff Williams, the cabinet member for economic prosperity, said: "There is already a code of conduct, but it is out of date, which is why we've got this one.

"All officers in the city centre will be made aware of the code and will able to show it to buskers.

"We hope that people will be sensible about it, we have to test it out, but the code is not too prescriptive."

Fellow cabinet member Councillor Roger Berry said: "Buskers add to the vibrancy of the city.

"But we're shortly going to see Cathedral Square up and running, it's vitally important we've got something in place for that - I think the document enhances the situation."

Stephen Brown, from the Midlands branch of the Musicians' Union, has already welcomed the policy, calling it "very progressive and a common sense approach".

  • See the guidelines for yourself HERE