Busker says policies are laughable

Fired up: Busker Tim Walsh is protesting Coffs Harbour City Council’s policy for busking in the city.
Fired up: Busker Tim Walsh is protesting Coffs Harbour City Council’s policy for busking in the city. Bruce Thomas

TIM Walsh loves entertaining – but not so much he wants to pay to do so which is exactly what Coffs Harbour City Council is asking from him.

Mr Walsh, who has travelled the world as a busker for more than 15 years, is stunned by Coffs Harbour City Council’s busking policies claiming it prevents serious entertainers from sharing their talents with the people of the city.

“I am shocked at how difficult it is to get a permit to busk in Coffs Harbour,” Mr Walsh said.

“To legally busk, I have to have $10 million public liability insurance, which costs around $500 to $600 a year, plus pay a daily fee of $12 to the council.

“I also have to audition in front of council staff – it’s the weirdest policy I’ve ever come across and I’ve busked in Sydney, Melbourne, Paris, London, New York, LA.”

He said it was laughable, considering Coffs Harbour prides itself on being the home of an International Buskers and Comedy Festival.

“What I’d like to see is the $12 fee scrapped and the insurances scrapped. I’m behind the eight-ball before I even start busking here.

“I’ve been travelling out of town every weekend because I can make good money.

“And who at council is qualified to say if someone is talented or not? If a busker is bad the public will tell them pretty quickly.”

In the council’s Property and Commercial Services Policies document, it is acknowledged that “the city of Coffs Harbour is growing its Coffs Coast International Buskers and Comedy Festival into a signature event for the city and it would be complimentary to have buskers on the streets during the year.”

It goes on to say, however, a high standard of performance would have to be ensured and so “a clearly defined policy needs to be established in order to protect the integrity of the council, the CBD and the Coffs Coast International Buskers and Comedy Festival” which included audition processes.

“The (daily) fee is to cover administration costs,” a spokesperson for the council said yesterday.

The spokesperson said council staff are looking into making busking easier and less expensive for performers.

Until then, Mr Walsh is taking to the streets, busking illegally, with a petition for people to sign.

Keep an eye out for him in the city in coming weeks.

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