Keep Spontaneous Street Performance Alive!
  • Petitioned Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool

This petition was delivered to:

Liverpool City Council
Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool
Labour Councillor, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Liverpool City Council
Stephen Munby

Keep Spontaneous Street Performance Alive!

    1. Jonathan  Walker
    2. Petition by

      Jonathan Walker

      Leeds, United Kingdom

September 2012


Liverpool City Council have formally scrapped their new busking law as a direct result of this campaign though they are still maintaining their policy was 'lawful and reasonable'. We welcome this decision and hope that it might signal a new culture of cooperation and compromise on the streets but without the legally dubious threats of trespass prosecutions and compulsory license schemes against artists and performers left hanging in the air. There are many who will now watch future Council decisions in this area with added interest!

The people who added their names to this cause via Change.Org and shared it with their friends have made an invaluable contribution towards this outcome. A large number of you also came out onto the streets of Liverpool for regular busking jams over the summer to help raise awareness for the campaign. Many of these events attracted coverage from online, print, radio and tv media outlets. Early on the Musician's Union gave us their support and offered to help Liverpool City Council draft a fairer policy. This was enormously helpful. The staff at Change.Org also provided valuable advice and insight throughout the campaign.

A campaign website was quickly set up with the help of campaigning journalist Christian Eriksson. Street artists and performers from Liverpool and beyond got together and started a facebook group and a page: 'Keep Streets Live in Liverpool' which now has 500 members. Supporters came along to regular events, took photos, made youtube videos, and helped gather signatures, fostering a growing sense of community. People from all walks of life came together in a common effort to stand against an unfair policy.

The campaign to 'Keep Streets Live' received a hugely significant boost in August when campaigning Senior Partner David Kirwan of Kirwan's solicitors offered pro bono legal support to our cause. Kirwan's launched a formal legal challenge against Liverpool City Council's decision in the form of a judicial review application on behalf of Liverpool busker Siobhan McDermott. It was in response to this legal challenge that the Council initially suspended their policy, and then formally abandoned it. We are very grateful to Kirwans for all the work they did on our behalf, and for their tenacity in holding the Council to account.

The petition to 'Keep Spontaneous Street Performance Alive' was a highly effective way of mobilising awareness about what the Council planned to do in Liverpool. It helped bring people together and connect in what was ultimately a successful effort to get the council to think again. I want to say a very big personal thank you to everyone whose support, enthusiasm and sense of community made this possible. We couldn't have done this without you! The streets of Liverpool will be alive with music and spontaneous street performance once again....

Jonny Walker
Founding Member of Association of Street Artists and Performers (ASAP!)

And everyone at Keep Streets Live!

Some of the media coverage of the Council's decision to drop the policy:

In Sepember, Liverpool City Council abandoned their controversial, unlawful and coercive license scheme thcampaign this petition, the Keep Streets Live campaign, and the legal support of Kirwans Solicitors. We had hoped that the council would then get in touch with us and take up the offer of the Musician's Union to draft a best practice guide that works for everybody, but is not heavy handed. Unfortunately, no one has yet been in touch with us from the Council, instead they have sent teams of enforcement officials, backed by police officers and attempted to collect names and addresses of performers in a campaign of intimidation and harassment. When not reformers politely refused to give their details, they often moved on and threatened with arrest. This is unacceptable and goes against the decision of the council to reverse their policy.

I have reopened this petition to raise awareness of the Council's recent actions and to make a simple and direct request to them. Liverpool City Council, please take up the offer of the Musician's Union to mediate and set up a meeting with the street artists and performers. We want to work with you and care about making Liverpool a vibrant and more open place. You dropped the compulsory coercive policy, now let's work together on a voluntary policy that protects the vulnerable and helps to Keep Streets Live!

Recent signatures


    1. Liverpool Best Practise Guidance

      Jonathan  Walker
      Petition Organizer

      This is a link to the Best Practice Guidance agreed between Liverpool City Council and the Keep Streets Live Campaign. We believe it to be a historic document which makes Liverpool stand out amongst world cities for its active support of a vibrant street culture.

      This guidance will be used by other towns and cities as they seek to improve relationships between buskers and other users of public space. It's exciting to think that it all began in Liverpool. I would welcome your comments on the document and hope to see you on a street filled with music sometime soon!


      Jonny Walker
      Director of Keep Streets Live Campaign

      Best Practice Busking Guide

      This best practise guidance has been jointly produced by the Keep Streets Live Campaign, Liverpool City Council and Liverpool Business Improvement District. It aims to preserve and safeguard a vibrant, open and spontaneous street culture whilst at the same time giving businesses, residents and buskers alike the tools to deal with issues that sometimes arrive at street level.

    2. Open Busker Meeting

      Jonathan  Walker
      Petition Organizer

      I hope this message finds you all well.

      This is just a quick reminder that there will be an open busker's meeting at The Brink in Liverpool tomorrow from 7:30pm to discuss the new guidance that Liverpool City Council have introduced for busking in the city. The Keep Streets Live Campaign worked with the council to agree a best practise guide that works for buskers and local businesses and we have committed to holding regular meetings to discuss any issues that arise on the streets from time to time and to resolve them amicably. These regular meetings are designed to protect open streets and public spaces in Liverpool for the arts.

      Anybody with an interest in busking and protecting street culture is welcome to attend our meeting. The address is The Brink Liverpool
      15-21 Parr St, L1 4JN Liverpool and a facebook event page has been created here:

      Hope to see you there,

      Jonny Walker
      Founding Director Keep Streets Live Campaign

      Liverpool Open Busker's Forum - hosted by Keep Streets Live Campaign | Facebook

      Liverpool Open Busker's Forum - hosted by Keep Streets Live Campaign | Facebook

    3. Liverpool Leads the Way

      Jonathan  Walker
      Petition Organizer

      Great news! After five months of detailed negotiations between the city council, the Keep Streets Live Campaign and the Business Improvement District the city have introduced new guidance for busking in Liverpool designed to promote harmony between buskers and other people using the streets and surrounding areas. You can read more about this historic collaboration, which comes two years after we campaigned against a draconian busking policy introduced in 2012 causing the council to abandon it, on this blog:

      As part of the new approach to busking in Liverpool the Keep Streets Live Campaign has agreed to hold regular open busker's meetings which all are welcome to attend. These meetings will be an opportunity for buskers to get to know each other and to maintain positive relationships on the streets. Buskers will also meet regularly with the city council to discuss issues and maintain an ongoing dialogue.

      The first open busker's meeting will be held at 7:15pm at The Brink in Liverpool on Tuesday 23rd September. The address is 21 Parr St, Liverpool, UK L1 4JN. A facebook event page has been set up here:

      On behalf of the Keep Streets Live Campaign I urge everyone who cherishes Liverpool's vibrant street culture to come along; all are welcome!

      With love,

      Jonny Walker
      Director Keep Streets Live Campaign

      Liverpool Leads the Way

      What a difference a couple of years makes! In the summer of 2012 Liverpool City Council caused consternation amongst the grassroots cultural community when they introduced a controversial busking policy placing severe restrictions on the right to perform music and art in public spaces within the city.

    4. Two Years of Keep Streets Live!

      Jonathan  Walker
      Petition Organizer

      What a journey!

      The Keep Streets Live Campaign was born two years ago with a simple but vital mission to advocate for public spaces that are open to informal offerings of art and music and to seek to build positive relationships between local authorities and street performers whilst developing policies that support and sustain street culture.

      The campaign was a response to Liverpool Council's plans to introduce one of the most restrictive busking policies of any major UK city in July 2012 which included threats of trespass prosecutions against unlicensed buskers on the public highway, bans on under 18s and huge restrictions on where and when people could perform.

      Challenging their decision with creativity and passion Liverpool's grassroots cultural community asked the council to work alongside them and not against them to design a policy based on preserving spontaneity and openness to public space for art and music and using dialogue and communication to resolve disputes. To their immense credit, the council listened and just two years later they have partnered with Keep Streets Live to introduce a scheme based on partnership between buskers, the council and local businesses
      which will make it a pioneer amongst British cities for the way it encourages and nurtures buskers. An open busker's forum will be held in Liverpool to which everybody is welcome to discuss ongoing issues. We will also meet regularly with the council to maintain positive relationships.

      In March 2013 the campaign successfully challenged York City Council's restrictive compulsory license scheme which required performers to apply in advance, audition and pay £40 per day if they wished to make CDs available. York Council abandoned their license scheme in response to our challenge but there is much work still to be done there to improve relationships between the council and the busking community. An open busker meeting is going to be held at El Piano, Grape Lane, YO1 7HU, in York at 6pm on Monday 14th July to discuss these issues. All who care about preserving street culture are welcome to this open meeting. Feel free to join the facebook event page and to invite friends along:

      Lastly, our challenge to Camden Council's Cromwellian anti-culture law continues. Lib Dem Peer Lord Clement-Jones, a well-known supporter of live music who brought in the Live Music Act in 2012 as a private member’s bill, has proposed the effective repeal of the law underpinning Camden’s draconian busking legislation in the House of Lords. Meanwhile the Court of Appeal will consider our ongoing legal challenge on the 6th of October. We will not let this unjust and repressive law remain unchallenged. Read more here:

      The Keep Streets Live Campaign is part of a London mayoral taskforce with a mandate to, in the words of Boris Johnson, make the capital into the 'world's most busker friendly city'. We will keep you posted on all developments and have much work to do in the capital city where attitudes towards buskers are best described as medieval!

      Meanwhile if you have any questions or comments or want to get involved with the campaign in any way, please feel free to reply to this email. There are regional Keep Streets Live facebook groups which you are welcome to join to keep in touch with our work.

      With thanks,

      Jonny Walker
      Director of Keep Streets Live Campaign



      Yorkshire and Humber


    5. Reached 3,000 signatures
    6. 700 supporters and counting

      Jonathan  Walker
      Petition Organizer

      We have reached 700 supporters for this campaign, having added over 120 people in the last 24 hours alone. Thanks for your support, we don't take it for granted. Follow campaign developments at

    7. City Busker Urges Council U-Turn

      Jonathan  Walker
      Petition Organizer

      This is a story about the impact that this petition is having at the local level. Please pass this story on to people you know...every person who signs up for the campaign makes it more likely that Liverpool Council will have to rethink their policy. A big thank you to everyone who has registered their support thus far,

      Peace and Love,


    8. 500 signatures !

      Jonathan  Walker
      Petition Organizer

      So excited to be halfway to our first thousand signatures. Thanks to your support, we have a real chance to change this policy. We are also in the process of setting up a campaign website, so watch this space!

    9. Reached 500 signatures
    10. 350 signatures and counting!

      Jonathan  Walker
      Petition Organizer

      Thanks to everyone for supporting this petition...every person who signs up is helping keep the streets of Liverpool alive with music and performers...keep passing on the message to anyone who might be interested...thanks again....

    11. Reached 250 signatures
    12. This is what the council are saying about the new policy...doesn't add up!

      Jonathan  Walker
      Petition Organizer

      According to the council, the new rules will actually benefit street performers:

      ‘’These measures will greatly enhance Liverpool’s ability to attract the very best buskers and will add a new dimension to the visitors experience’. Buskers themselves will benefit from a better regulated process and judging by the volume of complaints we receive I know retailers and shoppers will be delighted the city has finally made this leap.’’

    13. 200 signed up and counting!

      Jonathan  Walker
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you so much to everyone for supporting this campaign so far....Only 49793 signatures to go!!!

    14. Nearly half-way to 200 signatures on this petition! Thank you everybody...

      Jonathan  Walker
      Petition Organizer

      If this petition strikes a chord with you, please share it with your friends. Thank you for your support so far...

    15. This is a copy of the letter that Liverpool's street performers received:

      Jonathan  Walker
      Petition Organizer

      Street artists and performers will be trespassing from July 9th??

      Enquires to: Mike Cockburn
      Direct Line: 0151 233 5327
      Email: Our Ref:
      Dear Sir or Madam,


      You have been given this letter because you are carrying out activities which fall outside your rights as a highway user. As Liverpool City Council is the owner of the land underneath the highway this means that you are trespassing upon its land and you are now ordered by the Council to cease your current activity and to vacate the land. Provided you do so then no further action will be taken against you.
      Please note that the Council has introduced authorised pitches for buskers. If you wish to take advantage of this then please contact Licensing at Municipal Buildings, Dale Street during office hours.
      Yours sincerely,

      Mike Cockburn

      City Centre Manager

    16. Reached 100 signatures
    17. Busking - Liverpool's natural art form or public nuisance?

      Jonathan  Walker
      Petition Organizer

      This news story has some interesting video clips in about busking, including some revealing examples of prejudice...worth a watch...

    18. Thanks to everyone who has signed this already. Your support is appreciated

      Jonathan  Walker
      Petition Organizer

      The more signatures we gather, the more support we can demonstrate to Liverpool City Council that we have for a policy that celebrates the rich talents on the streets of Liverpool...

    19. Reached 25 signatures


    Reasons for signing

      • almost 2 years ago

      Music and street performers, as anyone who has been to the Edinburgh Festival, or Paris, every day, knows is a vital part of the city's entertainment. It breathes life into its heart. The joy musicians have given me is unquantifiable. The tenor saxe in Bold Street. The pan pipe bands. They are all part of the arts of our country. We should embrace and encourage, not threaten. Once, in Chester, a friend gave some money to an old lady playing, not very well, a clarinet. When I asked her, why? She said, One day, Carolyn, that might be you!'

      The majority of artists I see are not like the, not so tuneful, old woman. They are amazing performers. But if they were? Charity should begin in our streets. Shame on you, Liverpool Council.

      • about 2 years ago

      What person hasn't grown up with one of those cheesy musical films where the protagonists bursts into happy dancing every so often? What person hasnt smiled or laughed when they see this imitated in reality? You can restrict people from personal expression.

      We have a busker in my town that has absolutely no talent. At 60+ years his voice is rattled and poor and he is unable to hold a tune on his bagpipes...i've grown up for the last 3 years walking past that man. And i wouldn't have it any other way.

      Stop being ridiculous- stop trying to dictate the way the public breath!

      • about 2 years ago

      independent live performance is what keeps music alive. I admire anyone with the guts to busk .

    • colin mccormick TIDWORTH, UNITED KINGDOM
      • about 2 years ago

      music an d entertainment for free on the streets is the peak of artitic expression and must never be stopped by these faceless soulless grey people

      • about 2 years ago

      With more and more privatised space, shopping centres etc. it is vital that we are allowed to use the public space that remains and allow people to use it to good effect, speaking, playing, petitioning selling non-establishment newspapers etc.


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