BUSKERS are welcome in Stratford – as long as they play by the new rules.
Street entertainment in all its forms has been an accepted part of the town for many years.
But the atmosphere turned sour recently after a Stratford District Council-contracted park warden ordered two buskers to stop playing and move on.
Brought in to look after council-owned land on Bancroft Gardens, the park wardens not only tend the flowers, but also offer help and advice to visitors, and watch out for anti-social behaviour.
But after mistakenly attempting to enforce an old bye-law preventing busking, one park warden came in for criticism from passers-by and others on social media.
As a result of the mix-up, Stratforward, which is responsible for overseeing busking, has teamed up with Stratford District Council to modify its Busker Code.
The code was originally introduced around five years ago and has been implemented throughout that time, but following the recent confusion Stratforward and the council have made amendments.
Now, as well as setting out time constraints and specific locations to ensure performers do not congregate in one place, the newly-adapted Busker Code will also make it easier for park wardens to recognise buskers.
Under the new system, by registering with Stratforward, buskers will have permission to play on council-owned areas and will be given a ticket to show they have signed up to the code.
A district council spokeswoman said: “We recognise the value buskers can bring to a site such as Bancroft Gardens.
“We are glad so many people want to entertain our visitors and residents and hope the rejuvenated Busker Code will give everyone a fair opportunity and ensure all performers are able to entertain under the same set of rules.”
Stratforward BID manager Karen Wild said they wanted to create a “pleasant environment” for buskers, visitors and businesses alike.
She added: “The ticket system ensures the park wardens can immediately identify buskers that have signed up to the code and enables Stratforward to keep a database of performers who can be contacted when there are events they may like to perform at.
“I am sure the new scheme will deliver a safe, vibrant and enjoyable experience for everyone.”
Anyone who wishes to sign up to the Busker Code can visit www.stratforward.co.uk/busking or call 01789 292718.