No encore: Cork council plans busking bylaws next year

Traders who say they are being “driven demented” by noisy buskers will have to wait until next year before busking bylaws come into force in Cork City.

The news emerged yesterday after several city centre business owners said they were considering moving out of the city because of the problem.

Several traders on Cook St and Marlborough St said some of the busking activity is driving them to distraction and is making it virtually impossible to run a business, to hold in-office meetings or conduct conference or Skype calls with clients.

One business owner said she has left her office early and comes in at weekends to work in peace and quiet, while the owners of a tech business said one staff member quit over the noise problem.

The city council’s head of environment, David Joyce, said while it is a complex issue to address, officials are actively working on the drafting of the wording for a comprehensive and detailed set of busking bylaws which should be ready by the third or fourth quarter of this year.

It is hoped the draft bylaws will be ready for debate by city councillors before the end of the year and, if supported, they will be published for the statutory six-week period of public consultation.

It could be early next year before the laws are enacted.

Mr Joyce said: “Buskers are very welcome in the city but there needs to be certain constraints placed on busking across the city centre.

“Buskers add ambience and atmosphere to a city, especially on great summer days, like we’ve been having in recent weeks.

“But where issues arise, around noise or location, the concerns of businesses need to be taken on board.”

Last November, Fianna Fáil councillor Ken O’Flynn proposed a set of 15 bylaws to control busking in the city, including the introduction of a permit system, a ban on drum kits and amplifiers over 15 watts, a requirement for musicians to have a repertoire of at least 20 songs to prevent repetition, and allowing busking between 11am and 11pm only.

He said his proposals were published following almost two years of internal debate and discussion in City Hall and are based loosely on similar successful busking control measures which have been in place in Westminster, London, for decades.

Mr O’Flynn said he is very disappointed and frustrated at the slow pace of progress on the issue.

“I would call on officials again to provide a detailed response to these proposals and give the people of Cork city, especially the commercial rate-payers who are paying their wages, value for money,” he said.

“Nobody wants to curtail busking. It brings a great atmosphere to the city, but it has to be done well.

“This has been going on now for over two years. Traders, who pay commercial rates, are being driven demented by certain continuous busking, and buskers themselves complain that they can’t get a spot on some streets because other acts stay there 24/7. I want this issue addressed immediately.”

Mr Joyce accepted it is taking longer than had been hoped. “It is taking time but we want to get it right and balance the needs of all stakeholders to benefit everyone,” he said.



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