BUSKERS are making life miserable for a woman in Stroud.
Jane Kennaway, who lives in the centre of Stroud, said that many of the town’s street performers play the same songs repeatedly, and their relentless playing has forced her to consider moving away.
Ms Kennaway, who has lived in the town centre for around two years, wants the district council to be stricter about who is allowed to busk.
“They play in the middle of the night, first thing in the morning, with Dire Straits’ Sultans of Swing on repeat,” she said.
“I’ve been driven out of my home on several occasions and am now thinking of selling up.
“I’m not a fussy person, I’ve chosen to live in the town centre, knowing that it will be fairly noisy. But these buskers are a menace.”
Stroud District Council has a voluntary code of conduct for all street performers which includes a ban on performing for longer than one hour in any one location.
It also states: “The appearance and quality of an act should demonstrate a positive intention to entertain rather than to solicit money through sympathy.”
But Ms Kennaway said that the code of conduct is being ignored by many buskers.
“The rules are being flouted,” she said.
“I think it would be good to audition and license buskers, as they do in some other places.”
Ms Kennaway cited the example of the Princesshay area of Exeter, where auditions are held for buskers who, if successful, are issued a photo ID card.
Princesshay now has over 100 official buskers who perform in the centre daily at six different pitches.
Veteran Stroud street performer, saxophonist Jools Baker, busks in Stroud twice a week. He agrees that stricter regulation is needed.
“If people could only play in the town centre for a limited time each week, that turnover would help keep the vibrancy in Stroud,” he said.
“I play in Stroud twice a week, for about an hour at a time.
“If you can play and you’ve got a show, you don’t need to do more than that. You will earn enough money in that time.
“Buskers who stay longer than around an hour are blocking pitches and stopping other people from working.
“I know of several good street entertainers who won’t come into Stroud now, because they can’t get a pitch.”
Mr Baker believes a national licensing scheme would be the best solution.
“At the moment, lots of towns I’ve been to have their own licensing scheme, which rules visiting musicians out.
“A nationwide scheme would mean that everyone with a licence could play all over the country.”
A spokesman for Stroud District Council said: “We are sorry to hear of the issues outlined. One of our officers has already visited the site to assess the situation, in response to a complaint.
“Busking is not strictly a licensable activity because it is not music being played to a specific audience.
“Buskers have performed in Stroud over many years and it is our view that a balance is required between reasonable levels of street performing and activity likely to cause nuisance to local residents.
“That’s why we have a 10-point voluntary code of practice which addresses issues including repetition, intimidation and length of stay at one spot.
“We would also not expect there to be any busking outside the hours of 9 am to 6 pm as this may then escalate the activity towards anti-social behaviour.
“Where the code is not complied with, we will investigate complaints and, if the results warrant it, take steps to address the matters with individual performers.”
In total five complaints have been made about buskers to Stroud District Council this year.