Memorial plaques to urge buskers to move on

Buskers are being asked to tone it down at the memorial area. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Buskers are being asked to tone it down at the memorial area. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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Buskers and street performers are to be encouraged to steer clear of plying their trade outside the war memorial on the Royal Mile amid concerns they are inadvertently spoiling the solemnity surrounding it.

The memorial outside the City Chambers was inaugurated in 1927 but street performers often stage lively entertainment right next to it without appreciating they might cause offence.

Now three 30cm circular bronze plaques are to be embedded in the pavement at three metre intervals outside the memorial with the message “Remember and Respect” and a poppy or a thistle emblem in the centre of each disc.

Lord Provost Donald Wilson said: “This area of the High Street is very busy, particularly in the summer, and the proposed plaques would just be a gentle reminder that the war memorial is there and that due respect should be given.”

This summer has seen the area attract many performers, and residents have welcomed the idea of curbing some of the busking on the street which can become “too much” at certain times of year.

Bill Cowan, chairman of the Old Town Community Council and a member of the Old Town Association, said: “We like some buskers and we like some tartan tat being sold, there has always been that sort of thing going on. If you look at a 17th century print you will often see a busker in it.

“The problem is when there becomes too much of it.”

Mr Cowan, who is also a member of the Old Town Association, said: “As far as residents are concerned there are times when it definitely does become too much – particularly in the summer time.”

Meeting the needs of Old Town residents as well as tourists should be a key priority for the city council, he said.

Mr Cowan added: “Our feelings on these sorts of things are that generally they are a good thing as they reflect that our city is a shared space.

“Though we have many millions of tourists per year and we host the Edinburgh Festival, we are very much of the opinion we should remain as a city where people actually live and work. We would think raising the profile of things like war memorials was a very good idea.”

One piper, who wished to remain anonymous, said that musicians were a part of the street and he had never had any problems whilst playing in various spots on the Royal Mile.

He said: “All the tourists used to love it and I never had any complaints from anyone, nor did any of my friends.”

Back in 2008, busking bagpipers were banned from playing in Castlehill and Lawnmarket due to noise complaints. Regular performers were forced to sign “Acceptable Behaviour Contracts” promising not to return to playing in the area – and faced an Asbo if they failed to comply with the contract. The final designs for the plaques are yet to be confirmed.