Street performers could soon be banned from selling CDs and using high-powered amps as part of a proposed crackdown on Norwich’s “bully buskers”. 

Norwich City Council has revealed a set of suggested guidelines for busking, following complaints by some shopkeepers and musicians about the "antisocial" behaviour and loud volumes of some city centre performers.

They include a ban on amplifiers powered by mains electricity or a generator, and any speaker above 30w - approximately 10w higher than a standard home speaker. 

Although there is no maximum volume stated within the suggested guidelines, they state that performances should be “just above the ambient street noise”, with amplifiers prohibited after 9pm.

Eastern Daily Press: Singer and guitarist Kieran Bernstone performing in NorwichSinger and guitarist Kieran Bernstone performing in Norwich (Image: Newsquest)

The document adds that performers should pitch up no closer than 50m from other musicians, and be considerate of “those dining outside” when choosing where to perform. 

Buskers would also be banned from selling merchandise, like CDs, while performing on the street, and must not pitch up “near cashpoints”. 

The guidelines will be open to public consultation until Tuesday 18 June, with people encouraged to share their thoughts via an online survey.

The council said it would also be contacting the “existing busker community” directly to discuss the suggestions.

If agreed, these guidelines would replace the city’s current rules, which have been dubbed “too vague” by some street performers.



Despite calls from the busker community to introduce penalties for performers who misbehave, the draft guidelines don't specify what will happen to those who fail to follow them. 

Although the proposed new rules state that the council will investigate complaints and, if the performance is "deemed to be a nuisance or anti-social", ask the busker to reduce their volume or stop playing, there is no mention of fines or bans for repeat offenders. 

The council said it would only look to take action if the performer is found to have broken laws that govern anti-social behaviour or environmental health.

Eastern Daily Press: Singer Chris Preece has been busking in Norwich for 15 yearsSinger Chris Preece has been busking in Norwich for 15 years (Image: Newsquest)

But singer Chris Preece, who has been busking in Norwich for more than a decade, said he believes more active enforcement measures are needed.

He said: “We need a promise that this will be enforced in some way, whether fines, bans, or anything really to actually keep this on track. 

"I’ve had experiences where I've asked someone to turn their amp down, and they do but then gradually turn it right back up again.

"Without some kind of penalty I don’t believe you’re going to see a change in behaviour.”

Also missing from the suggested rules is a limit on how long a performer can stay in one spot - an issue which has been hotly debated among buskers.

Mr Preece said in the past three years some performers have started monopolising key locations.

He added: “Most out there do everything to avoid causing disruption, and there used to be an unspoken understanding that you wouldn’t go for longer than two hours.

“But now a small group of people are staying put for three plus hours. It's not good for other musicians or the businesses they’re disturbing.”



The guidelines also provide suggestions for suitable busking spots in the city centre.

The list includes:

  • Gentleman’s Walk
  • Haymarket
  • Junction of Castle Street and Davey Place
  • St Georges Street
  • London Street between Exchange Street and Little London Street
  • Tombland
  • All Saints Green

The council added that although these have been identified as the most suitable locations for street performances, the rules around volume and anti-social behaviour would apply anywhere a busker performs.