Cork city businesses threaten to move due to buskers

Traders in the heart of Cork City have called on city chiefs to pull the plug on noisy buskers, and warned they will consider moving out of the city unless the issue is tackled.

Busker Shirley Scannell performing on Cook St in Cork

Several business owners in the Cook St area said they have reached the end of their tether and called last night for urgent busking control measures, including a ban on amplifiers and the introduction of busking-free zones in the city’s main office districts.

Graphic designer Alison Burns, who runs Studio 10 on Cook St, said she is not anti-busker but said it has become almost impossible to run her business with the constant noise from street musicians.

Just a few months after relocating to her city centre office, she said: “I’m thinking of just going back to work at home again because it’s just too noisy in town.

“I’m not here for complete peace and quiet. I love music, but a lot of it is not good quality and it’s too loud — it’s a nightmare.

“A lot of my work is high-end detail and ideas. The sound blows down the street and is affecting my ability to run a business. It’s become almost impossible to work.

“I had no idea how bad it would get in the summer. It’s all day, every day.”

She said she has been forced to close windows, turn on fans and radios to block out the buskers’ sound, leave work early, and come in early on Sunday mornings just to get some quiet time and to get work done.

“I am paying council rates and feel the council should do something about this,” she said.

“There should be a few designated spots in the city for buskers — the retail and cafes seem to like it, but not in this area. Everyone should be able to operate in the city, there should be space for everyone.”

Maura O’Connor, who runs Petals Florist nearby, backed the calls for controls on busking.

“I don’t have an issue with the busking,” she said. “I am a fan of live music, but it’s the noise levels, the volume — sometimes it is borderline nuisance.

“I can live with the repetitive nature of some of the acts, but it’s the volume — it could be six or seven hours a day, with different acts over the days.

“I’ve gotten good at tuning it out myself, but phone calls can be a problem, and it can be a bit distracting for customers.”

Cork Business Association chief executive Lawrence Owens said they want busking volumes controlled so that people can busk, and so that people can trade.

“Buskers should not be allowed to dominate an area, in terms of noise, or disrupt someone’s ability to run a business,” he said.

“We have to look at this issue reasonably, practically and sensibly and put in measures that have some degree of control — it’s about balance.”

Shirley Scannell, who was busking with an amplifier on Cook St yesterday, said: “Buskers come into town to entertain people and to be well received — they don’t do it to consciously annoy anyone.

“Sensitivity is what’s required on the part of buskers. I know most buskers who, if a shop owner comes out to object to the volume or whatever, most buskers do take it on board, and they’ll move on or turn down the amplification.

“Music is quite a spiritual thing and it’s better left to negotiation and goodwill.”

There have been several attempts by city councillors to introduce busking controls or bylaws in recent years, but the issue has been kicked to touch.

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