Buskers can amp it up

Buskers will be allowed to amp it up at Byron Bay this summer.

Byron Council last week voted to allow buskers to use amplified music in the town for a six-month trial – but they will have to rely on battery power.

Under the trial, no mains power can be used to fire up amplifiers and all busking has to stop by 10.30pm.

It’s a decision that won’t please local police.

In a submission to the council before last week’s vote, Acting Inspector Doug Conners from the Tweed-Byron Local Area Command said police objected to any amendment to allow amplified busking in the Byron Bay CBD.

Acting Inspector Conners said the major issues were noise, obstruction of footpaths and roadways by crowds and the potential for anti-social behaviour from intoxicated onlookers.

He said amplified music drew bigger crowds, which created a real potential for injury as pedestrians were forced to move on to the road to get around the crowd.

When police responded to complaints about crowds obstructing footpaths, there were often confrontations with intoxicated onlookers who refused to move on when directed to do so by police, he said.

In November 2008, Inspector Owen King, in a memo to council rangers, said police were opposed to any amplified music being played and all busking should end by 10.30pm.

Further, said Inspector King, police recommended there be no busking within 20 metres of any street corner and no busking within 50 metres of licensed premises.

Speaking against the proposed trial at last week’s meeting, Byron Bay resident Gerry Gleeson said amplified music in the streets, particularly in summer, was a great annoyance.

Mr Gleeson said Byron Bay residents didn’t support the trial, which only promoted Byron Bay’s party town image.

Byron Mayor Cr Jan Barham said she enjoyed listening to buskers in Byron Bay and believed 10.30pm was a reasonable time for buskers to stop playing.

Cr Barham was confident a self-regulation system backed by the local Buskers Alliance, would be successful.

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