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‘No attempt at decency’ - Starbucks apologises after worker ‘orders’ busker to move on

PUBLISHED: 06:30 24 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:25 24 June 2020

Busker Chris James, who was left intimidated after a Starbucks worker told him to move on. Picture: Dickie Hartt

Busker Chris James, who was left intimidated after a Starbucks worker told him to move on. Picture: Dickie Hartt

Dickie Hartt

A city busker has spoken of his dismay after being ordered to move on from his pitch by a staff member of Starbucks.

Chris James, performing on ITV's The Voice. Picture: ITVChris James, performing on ITV's The Voice. Picture: ITV

Singer and guitarist Chris James, who was previously a contestant on The Voice, was performing on Gentleman’s Walk on Monday when he was approached by one of the workers at the coffee giant’s branch on the same street.

Mr James, 30, said he was then abruptly told he could not perform in the same spot that hundreds of buskers have before him and ordered to pack away and leave.

The coffee firm has since offered an apology and said it would investigate the incident.

However, it left Mr James, who has been performing in the Norwich music scene for a decade, shaken and upset, having only just returned to busking after the closure of the high streets as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Mr James, who was on the ITV singing competition in 2018, said: “The spot outside Primark is quite a popular one in the busking community and I was only two songs in when somebody came marching out of Starbucks and told me I had to leave.

“It was just like that, there was no attempt at politeness or decency it all, it was just an order.”

The busker said he had been made to feel intimidated by the staff member, so immediately packed up and found a different spot to perform.

He said: “It wasn’t that they asked me to move that was the problem, it was the way they spoke. Had they politely asked me to turn it down or requested I go elsewhere it wouldn’t have been a problem.

“It’s certainly put me off going back there again for a while, which is a shame because it is one of the busiest spots for buskers in the city.”

A spokesman for the coffee chain said: “We are very sorry for the distress this has caused and we have been in contact to apologise and investigate this further.”

The spot along Gentleman’s Walk has been increasingly popular with street performers over the years and has been a regular haunt for cult hero the Norwich Puppet Man.


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