New code of conduct for London buskers claim bagpipes are ‘annoying’


BORIS Johnson has effectively banned the bagpipes from London streets after branding the instrument “annoying”.

The London Mayor unveiled a “code of conduct” for buskers which states those playing the pipes should be banished to locations with “no flats, shops or hotels”.

The new rules – which also highlighted beatboxing as particularly irksome – describe Scotland’s national instrument as a “piercing” sound.

The move has angered pipers who claim Boris is “suppressing Scottish and Irish culture”.


The new rules describe the noise from Scotland’s national instrument as a “piercing” sound



A new website called Busk in London which outlines the code was launched by the Greater London Authority last month.

In the section ‘Your performance’ it states: “Some sounds can become annoying more quickly.

“For example: repetitive sounds like some types of percussion or beatboxing; loud sounds like highly amplified guitars; hard ‘attack’ sounds like drums; piercing sounds like bagpipes.

“If your act has these, move regularly or find locations with no flats, offices, shops or hotels.”

Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former strategy chief who himself plays the pipes, said the rules were an “unjustified bias”.

He said: “Having been a ­bagpiping busker myself in my student days I am a great supporter of buskers in our towns and cities.

“They add a lot to life. Inevitably there are good and bad – that goes for any instrument – but the dismissive attitudes expressed in this advice reveal an unjustified bias against the pipes.

“I would certainly support any pipers who sought to have it changed.

London piper Pat Sands, 58, said: “Boris should be ashamed of himself, especially during the centenary year of the First World War when over 300 pipers were killed on the Western Front.

“It would seem that Boris cannot help but to subconsciously carry on the English tradition of suppressing Scottish and Irish culture and this is a future Tory prime minister.”

The busker who plays in London’s West End continued: “We’ve been lumped in with electric guitars and ‘attack’ drums. Many pipers feel that we’ll be refused once licensing comes in, Boris has spoken before about how he finds them annoying.

“Most pipers can physically only play for up to an hour before moving on anyway, so none of us can see what this code is supposed to be policing other than just banning pipers.

“Among buskers it’s known that pipers make the most money because tourists see us as an emblem of the UK and love to have their photo taken with us. Obviously Mr Johnson doesn’t think the same.”

A spokeswoman for the mayor of London, said: “We’re enthusiastic about all musical instruments played by buskers, but we point out that some like electric guitars and bagpipes can have more of a noise impact and that musicians should consider this when dec­iding where exactly to play.

“It is clearly not a proscription against playing these instruments, and all the stakeholders who were involved in designing the code of conduct, buskers, the musicians union, local authorities, and the Met police would confirm this.”