A BUSKER has hit out at a council over a sign which bans the age-old tradition of street music.
Hartlepool Borough Council erected the notice at the bottom of The Ramp, in York Road, Hartlepool, where street musicians have performed regularly for donations for generations.
It bans them from playing music under a local byelaw.
But town busker Jeff Butterfield said the prohibition is ruining the “pleasant custom” and making it more difficult for performers to make money.
The 61-year-old – who busks to make ends meet after losing his job in the steel industry 18 months ago – said: “It’s very sad to see this sign go up. It’s killing busking really, it’s killing an age-old tradition and a pleasant custom of this country.
“Street music brightens up town centres and it’s lovely to put a smile on people’s faces with music.
“There are a lot of people who don’t like it and I think some people associate it with drug-use or begging or dodging work, but I legitimately have to do it to pay the bills. By putting this sign up the council is just making it harder for people like me to earn money to live.
“The ramp in Hartlepool is a busy spot and gets a lot of members of the public passing. to ban musicians from there is disappointing in my opinion.”
A council spokesman said despite the erection of the sign, buskers are welcome in Hartlepool and can play at other locations in and around the town.
He said: “Buskers are very much welcome in Hartlepool and indeed they play regularly at various locations in the town.
“However, under a local byelaw we are required to move a busker on if they are performing within 100m of a residential property or business and the occupants complain, which has occurred in this particular instance.”
Jeff, who lives off The Front, in Seaton Carew, Hartlepool, has been on the music scene since the 70s and has even travelled to America on several occasions to promote his music.
But when he lost his day job at the Steelworks 18 months ago he was forced to busk on a regular basis to pay the bills and make ends meet.
The dad-of-two and grandad-of-one does play his guitar and sing to the people of Hartlepool on occasions but prefers to travel a bit further afield to Middlesbrough where buskers are often given a more warm reception.
Jeff added: “Money doesn’t just come to you does it.
“So until I get a job I have to do this and I do enjoy it.
“Some days you earn more than others, it’s feast or famine really.
“I’m grateful for all the donations I get but I’d rather make somebody happy with my music than have them make a donation.”