Page last updated at 14:17 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 15:17 UK

Busking changes 'to cause chaos'

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Buskers have become a familiar site across London

Changes to London Underground's busking scheme will cause "punch-ups and chaos", a busker has said.

The scheme, which enables buskers to book a pitch to perform at Tube stations, will be managed by Transport for London (TfL) from Sunday.

Busker Michael Ball said an online booking system would be replaced, causing confusion among buskers.

But TfL said its management of the busking scheme would deliver better value for money.

Under the current system, introduced in 2003 and managed by the firm Automatic, 400 licensed buskers perform at 28 pitches in 21 Tube stations.

They must first audition to secure a license and then a spot on the rota.

'Killing off scheme'

Mr Ball, who has been busking in London for more than 20 years, said the current system worked well.

But from Sunday "sophisticated software" which manages bookings will be replaced by "two London Underground staff with pencil and paper".

"Whether through incompetence or deliberately, the system will collapse," Mr Ball said.

"They are effectively killing off the scheme."

A TfL spokeswoman said: "The buskers provide a great service to our passengers and enhance their journeys.

"We will have staff dedicated to ensure the scheme continues to run smoothly and that both buskers and passengers benefit from the continuation of a more efficiently-managed scheme."

Buskers would continue to be able to book pitches up to two weeks in advance, she added.


SEE ALSO
Buskers audition for Tube pitch
01 Jun 06 |  London
Tube busking scheme 'a success'
19 May 04 |  London

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