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Bankside buskers asked to turn 180 degrees to curb noise nuisance

London SE1 website team

Southwark Council has revealed its cunning plan to cut complaints from Bankside residents about buskers causing a noise nuisance: ask the musicians to face the other way.

Bankside buskers asked to turn 180 degrees to curb noise nuisance
A 2017 image of a 'no busking' sign on Bankside

Borough & Bankside ward councillor David Noakes tabled a question for last week's council assembly meeting seeking an update on the council's efforts to address the long-standing concerns of residents living near the Thames Path whose lives are blighted by constant repetition of the same music.

Cllr Noakes asked: "When is the cabinet going to consider the recommendations submitted by the Bankside Busking Working Group last year?

"When will they adopt and implement a solution that protects the amenity of local residents and reduces problematic and nuisance busking?"

Cllr Catherine Rose, cabinet member for leisure, environment and roads, said that a 2018 study by the council had found that "the vast majority of the complaints of busking noise were from a very small number of households with 73 per cent of complaints coming from
four individuals".

She added: "Noise officers who conducted the investigation assessed that the noise generated by buskers was not sufficiently loud or intrusive for enforcement action to be taken.

"Nevertheless, officers were keen to look at ways of alleviating any nuisance to
residents.

"Officers quickly identified that other factors such as reflected noise from buildings did impact on noise levels for local residents.

"This was particularly relevant as the majority of complaints were about the busking pitch outside the Tate Modern.

"The buskers using this pitch were asked to turn through 180 degrees and face the river. This resulted in a great reduction in complaints made to the council.

"Buskers continue to keep to this arrangement and complaints have remained much reduced.

"There have however been some complaints from residents in the City of London as the sound can travel across the Thames and is on occasion is audible on the north bank.

"There were other recommendations from the report including relocating the pitch at Tate Modern, revised signage along the river front and the production of a busking best practice leaflet to be distributed to buskers in the area.

"Although Bankside wardens continue to intervene and give advice to buskers, those members of the public experiencing noise nuisance are advised to contact the Southwark Noise and Nuisance Team.

"At present, the footfall in the area is reduced and although buskers are present the number and frequency is much reduced.

"Officers working weekends on COVID-19 compliance have been asked to visit the location and noise officers have also on occasion moved buskers along."

Cllr Rose said that the council hoped to do more work on busking in "early 2021" and in response to a supplementary question from Cllr Noakes, agreed to visit Bankside herself to examine the situation.

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