Royal Mile call for bagpipers’ hours to be cut

Bagpipers are currently allowed to play round-the-clock on the Royal Mile. Picture: Michael Hughes
Bagpipers are currently allowed to play round-the-clock on the Royal Mile. Picture: Michael Hughes
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BUSKING bagpipers should be banned from playing tunes round-the-clock on the Royal Mile, shopkeepers are demanding.

They want restrictions introduced to cut the noise and nuisance to local residents and businesses.

Abe Wilson, of the Court Curio Shop in Lawnmarket, said pipers played constantly just yards from his door and is spearheading the drive to impose tougher rules.

He said: “Edinburgh is one of the last cities in the country that doesn’t have any legislation for buskers.

“For the past three years up here, we have had a conveyor belt of pipers, starting in the morning and playing for two or three hours, then another one takes their place, and that goes on all day every day.

“It’s terrible. You think you’re hearing bagpipes in your sleep. They come from all over the country because it is a free-for-all here.

“We’ve tried to speak to them and said is there any chance they could limit it to a couple of hours a day, but they’re not willing to work with the shopkeepers. They know their rights and they are not interested in moving on.”

Mr Wilson said many cities limited buskers to two hours and required them to move on if people complained.

“That doesn’t happen in Edinburgh,” he said.

And he added that complaints seemed to fall on deaf ears. “The council says it’s a police matter and the police says it’s a council matter.”

In 2011, the city council launched a crackdown on street performers under the name Hit the Right Note, handing out credit card-sized guidance notes outlining best practice for considerate busking and offering advice on playing music at respectable volumes. It also urged performers to move to another pitch at least 50 metres away after every two hours and banned the use of amplifiers.

City Centre Tory councillor Joanna Mowat said the crackdown had worked for a while, but had not been actively pursued since the police force merger.

She said she was sympathetic to shopkeepers, but there was a balance to strike. “If you’re a visitor to Edinburgh, you think ‘Wow, there are real bagpipers on the streets’, but if you have to listen to it all day, it can drive you crackers,” she said.

A council spokeswoman said: “Edinburgh is world-renowned for its support of the arts and buskers often play a part in the city’s colourful make-up. The Hit the Right Note campaign reminds them that while they make a positive contribution, they also have a responsibility to consider others by keeping noise levels down.”