High Court set for challenge to Camden anti-busking law

Some good news!

As posted previously, despite celebrity backing for a campaign by professional busker Jonny Walker, Camden council went ahead and voted in a new law introducing a licensing system with draconian penalties, which will effectively ban any spontaneous music in its streets.

The law was due to come into force from tomorrow, 1st Feb, but after raising money by crowd-sourcing on indiegogo, Jonny has managed to launch a legal challenge which will be heard in the High Court at the end of February, together with an undertaking that the new rules will not be enforced until after the judgement (if at all).

With the possibility not only of radically changing the nature of Camden for ever, but also acting as a springboard for a similar crackdown in public areas throughout the UK, surely this new legislation is of serious public interest. But even before the next round of legal aid cuts takes effect, the sad fact remains that a hearing of this sort can only be safely undertaken by the rich, and the council can threaten to rack up its legal costs to dissuade and scare off legitimate challenges.

However, Jonny first went to court to ask for “protected costs” and the judge has agreed to limit any claim against him to just £7500. With just a couple of days to go, the indiegogo campaign has so far attracted around £7000, so after costs and indiegogo commissions, a good part of the fighting fund is in place, and a last push for donations may yet clinch it.

The hope is of course that Jonny will win the case, forcing Camden to rethink its approach. In which case, the funds raised will go towards establishing good practice forums to find sensible solutions to issues raised by residents, as well as training for young musicians.

The case will be heard on the 27th and 28th February – watch this space and Jonny’s site for updates and news then.

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