Cllr James McKay, Cabinet Member for Inclusion and Community Safety, has today (September 15) offered a further update on the proposal for a Public Spaces Protection Order for parts of Birmingham city centre…
He said: “We began the consultation over a possible Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) earlier this year in response to an increasing number of complaints raised by residents, visitors and businesses regarding buskers, street speakers and street entertainers, and in particular regarding the use of amplification in street speaking and entertainment.
“The PSPO is a new power made available to councils to tackle local issues of concern, and differs to by-laws in the sense that they can be agreed locally, rather than having a lengthy wait for central government approval. Given the strength of feeling over amplified noise, we decided to see what people thought.
“A wide range of strong opinions both for and against the idea were heard during the public consultation.
“In total, nearly 650 responses were received. I am really grateful to everyone who responded and played a part in us working this issue through.
“Many people did indeed feel that amplified noise (both music and speaking) is a nuisance in the city centre, impacting on residents, visitors and businesses.
“Others however felt very strongly that the vibrancy of Birmingham’s street scene is a critical part of its appeal, and we should not do anything to damage freedom of expression, be that music or speech, in the city centre.
“There were also specific concerns raised about protecting the right to protest. All of these viewpoints were considered very carefully.
“Roughly speaking, the responses broke 60/40 against the idea of a PSPO.
“Taking all of this into account, we no longer plan to proceed with the PSPO, and will seek to address the issues of concern in other ways.
“Our existing Code of Conduct for buskers will be reviewed to ensure it is as robust as possible, and we will look at what we can do to deal with any individuals who cause a specific nuisance through other tools such as Community Protection Notices. It is clear from the consultation that this more targeted approach will inspire far more confidence than a universal or blanket approach could have done.
“We said from day one that this was about a consultation and discussion with the public – I hope where we have got to vindicates that approach.”