Outrage at 250% increase in busking fees
AN ONLINE petition is calling for Lismore City Council to reverse their decision to increase to busking permit fees by more than 250 per cent.
From July 1 this year, the busking permit fee increased from $17 to an "unrealistic” $60 for the 2018/2019 budget.
The change.org petition 'Lismore City Council must withdraw plans to increase busker fees by 240 per cent' has already collected more than 400 signatures.
Shaen Springall created the petition last Friday, and said increases in fees for buskers to perform in Lismore will impact on the busker's ability to earn an income and will "detract from what is the heart of Lismore”. He went on to say that this decision will only "impact negatively on an already-struggling CBD”.
Many people who signed the petition have labelled the changes as "unfair” and "money-grabbing”.
Audrey McClean said "buskers bring life to a place, and we need all the life in Lismore we can get. $60 is too much”.
Graham Bale said: "They've got to be kidding? It should be free”.
Melissah Davies said: "This increase is disgraceful. You should be encouraging buskers to the area and supporting up-and-coming entertainers”.
Heidi Reid said: "Buskers bring the CBD to life. This hike in permit fees is outrageous and completely unfair”.
Hayley Lepe said: "There's better ways for the town to earn revenue that don't include taking pennies from buskers”.
Amanda Hale said: "Buskers bring life to the streets, and it provides a way to earn an honest living. This fee is totally unrealistic”.
Lismore City Council's compliance officer Matthew Kelly said the reason for the fee increase is due to a change in the application process, with the $60 charge now stemming from the standard council administration fee.
Mr Kelly said Lismore City Council has changed the application process to be more consistent with Ballina Shire Council, which includes photo ID for compliance purposes.
"This way we know the person making the application is the person on the street,” Mr Kelly said.
He said the higher fee is "definitely not money grabbing” and is simply to cover the administrative costs for the new application process.
"Buskers are earning an income off their performances and the permit lasts 12 months, so $60 per year to run a business is actually pretty cheap,” Mr Kelly said.
Mr Kelly said buskers should not anticipate another significant fee increase for next year's budget, as any changes would simply reflect changes to the base administration fee.
A 12 month busking permit in Ballina Shire costs $72, Byron Shire charges a one-off $25 application fee followed by $15 per year for a 12 month permit, while Kyogle Shire offers free busking permits.