In November a trawl of local newspapers unearthed this little story in the Liverpool Echo.
It is another example of local authorities looking for opportunities to use their official status to forcibly part people from their money, while increasing the powers and adding to the weight of regulation for which they are responsible for enforcing:
BUSKERS could soon have to hold a permit to play in Liverpool under new plans being drawn up by Liverpool Council bosses.
Proposals due to be put to the council’s cabinet before the end of the year could see street musicians told to buy a licence – and then being limited to when and where they can play and for how long.
Performers would also be required to take out costly public liability insurance.
Importantly, the article went on to tell readers that:
A council spokesman described the current arrangement as a “free for all” and said the proposals came in response to requests for better regulation from the public, city shopkeepers and even other buskers.
One thing that never rings quite true is a claim from a council that residents and businesses want more regulation and officialdom. So AM sent a Freedom of Information request to Liverpool City Council to see their evidence for this claim. The response arrived during the hectic pre-Christmas period, hence the delay in writing this up. It is shown in full below:
Imagine my shock and surprise to find the response provides no formal evidence whatsoever for Liverpool’s council officers to justify the regulation and increase in council powers! Yet the officers are asking councillors to put the regulation into force. Clearly the questions are a little too inconvenient, hence the response being packed with text that is irrelevant to the FOI enquiry.
Liverpool City Council is setting itself up as the judge and jury of which performers are the ‘more professional entertainers’ thereby stopping others from plying their trade and perhaps being noticed by someone who might open doors for them to build a career. The people who benefit are the City Council and their approved entertainers, creating the conditions for cronyism and backroom deals.
Drunk on power and free from anything approaching proper oversight and control by elected councillors, this is another example of councils serving their own interests at the expense of the taxpayers; who are treated as nothing more than cash cows to fund the whims and biases of officers and their bumper salaries and generous pension schemes.
AM has written back to Liverpool City Council asking for a copy of the papers officers have prepared for elected councillors about this recommedation to see all of the evidence the decision will be based upon.