THEY’RE a familiar sight – and sound – on the streets as we go about our business.
To some, buskers are music to the ears.
But others say they hit a bum note – and in Fareham the issue has become so divisive that Fareham Borough Council has now stepped in.
Councillors last night voted to bring in new rules so that street performers in the borough will need a licence before they can perform in public.
But it has said the permits are not being issued to make money, but to control and co-ordinate where buskers perform.
Councillor Pamela Bryant, chairman of the licensing committee, said: ‘We agreed to the principle of issuing permits for street entertainers.
‘It is very much in its infancy.
‘The conditions are now being drawn up and officers will liaise with the town centre manager to see which areas require them.
‘Street entertainers add vibrancy and we are not looking to stop them.
‘It is not a money-making exercise as the permits will be free.
‘It is to control and co-ordinate performances with other events within the town centre and so the council can deal with any complaints.
‘Most of the councils in the area already have permits.’
Yesterday in West Street, Fareham, traders and shoppers had mixed views over whether action was needed.
Deborah Baber-Taylor, 48, owner of the Debra charity shop, said: ‘I find the buskers quite enjoyable.
‘We don’t have a radio in the shop so it’s nice to have some background music as you work.
‘As long as they don’t harass my customers then I’m completely fine with them.
‘It’s a great avenue for young people to get out and showcase what they can do.
‘It’s a small stage for them and it could lead to bigger and better things.’
But Paul Kimber, 53, owner of Kimber’s Keyboards, disagrees.
He said: ‘I can imagine it would be a bit of a nightmare for shops if someone performed the same songs right outside all day.’
Busker Rory Ince, 20, from Church Road, Shedfield, has been busking in Fareham for the past two weeks in the hope of earning a few pennies.
Rory, who is unemployed, said: ‘I think permits are an inconvenience. I think it formalises everything too much. The whole point of busking is that it’s spontaneous and fun.
‘Busking is a good avenue for me at the moment to get quick cash so I can live.’
Both Gosport Borough Council and Portsmouth City Council already have a permit system in place.