A Cautionary Warning for Street Performers…

5093737054_7f3783eeca_oA number of our clients perform in city centres across the UK. It’s a useful way of gaining exposure and to generate buzz – particularly if you’re about to play a gig in the city.

As part of their performance, bands often hand out flyers advertising gigs, an album or the band website. However, did you know that Council officers can slap you with a fixed penalty notice for £80 for distributing flyers in certain ‘designated areas’? In some cases, you could face criminal proceedings in the magistrates court with a fine of up to £2,500. The law that makes this a criminal offence is Section 93B of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, and is intended to prevent items such as flyers, handouts, newspapers and pamphlets from being discarded and becoming litter.

So, here are 5 quick tips to stop you falling foul of the law:

  1. If you want to distribute any printed materials, then check on the relevant Council website whether you would be doing so in a ‘designated area’. If you are, then you will be committing an offence. The Council website will define an area, or list specific streets that are ‘designated areas’. For example, in Manchester, the whole of the city centre is a ‘designated area’, being defined as “the area bounded by the River Irwell, Regent Road, Dawson Street, Egerton Street, Mancunian Way, Fairfield Street, Pin Mill Brow, Great Ancoats Street, Redhill Street, Radium Street, Oldham Road, New Cross, Swan Street, Miller Street, Cheetham Hill Road and Trinity Way.”
  2. Obtain consent if you want to distribute flyers in any designated area. Consent in Manchester costs from £111 – ouch! Payment of the fee allows you to distribute free printed matter in the designated areas from the date specified on the consent for a 12 month period. It typically takes around 3 to 5 working days to obtain consent.
  3. If you obtain consent then be sure to wear the lovely ‘distribution badge’ provided to you by the Council!
  4. If obtaining consent is too expensive, then be sure to perform only outside that city’s designated areas or, if you want to perform in a designated area, be sure not to hand out any flyers – however tempting that may be!!
  5. If you are caught distributing printed material in a designated area then behave impeccably! Enforcement officers typically wear chest cameras and will be recording the event as evidence!

Sound Counsel is a law firm specialising in music and entertainment law. For a free initial consultation please call Mark Roberts on 0161 826 9309.

Image copyright © Rory MacLeod. Licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Mark Roberts

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