Valletta local council to regulate and limit artisan ‘buskers’

Valletta mayor Alexiei Dingli said the situation is becoming 'intolerable' 

Valletta Local Council wants to regulate buskers selling 'artistic' goods (Photo: James Bianchi)
Valletta Local Council wants to regulate buskers selling 'artistic' goods (Photo: James Bianchi)

The Valletta Council wants to regulate buskers that sell their ‘artistic’ goods in the capital, with mayor Alexiei Dingli saying the situation is becoming “intolerable”.

A byelaw that makes it incumbent on buskers to obtain permission from the council is expected to be discussed on 13 March.

“The situation in front of the law courts and in De Valette Square is becoming intolerable with the number of stalls being set up by buskers,” Dingli told MaltaToday.

He complained that buskers who sell products only require a licence from the trade department with no input from the council. Performance buskers require no permit whatsoever.

Under the Trading Licences Act, selling by busking is subject to various conditions, including that the product being sold is produced on site or is a work of art. The law also says that place where a busker stops to sell his goods has to be at least five metres of walking distance from the entrance of any commercial establishment.

Furthermore, no selling by busking can be carried out in the precincts of any hotel or shopping complex if not by written permission from the management.

But the law also bans selling by busking in various spots around Valletta, including Castille Square, St George Square, the  City Gate area and the bus terminus. The square in front of the law courts and De Valette Square next to the open-air theatre are not mentioned by the law.

Dingli believes the proposed regulations by the council will help maintain order. The byelaw is expected to limit the number of buskers who sell products from makeshift stalls in specific areas. It will also give preference to buskers who live in Valletta. “Prime sites like that in front of the law courts have been turned into street markets with the situation getting worse during the summer months,” he added.

Dingli said five years ago the council had asked the trade department to refer any applications for buskers who sell their goods to the council. The request fell on deaf ears.

“Through the byelaw, the council will have some form of control on the matter,” Dingli said.

The byelaw will also introduce a fine for buskers who do not obtain the necessary permit from the council.

Councils are empowered to introduce byelaws but these have to be approved by the minister for local councils before they can become law. Late last year, the Gzira and Victoria councils introduced byelaws to ban the drinking of alcohol in public places in a bid to curb unruly behaviour and unnecessary littering.

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