Ex-buskers fight on

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Janie Smith

A FAM­ILY of for­mer buskers say an on­go­ing dis­pute with the Auck­land City Coun­cil is ru­in­ing their lives.

The Sh­effield fam­ily have been served with a 349 page ap­pli­ca­tion for an in­junc­tion from the coun­cil, seek­ing to pre­vent them from busk­ing.

They have un­til May 22 to pre­pare their defence.

Ear­lier this year, the coun­cil filed pa­pers in the Auck­land Dis­trict Court to get the fam­ily to pay $438 plus court costs for seiz­ing their in­stru­ments and equip­ment.

Michael Sh­effield, 22, says al­though the case may seem petty to some, it’s a se­ri­ous mat­ter for him and his fam­ily.

“It’s cer­tainly not petty to us be­cause it’s ru­ined my whole life. I’m stuck work­ing at McDon­ald’s try­ing to get my life back to­gether.”

Mother Carol says Michael and his brother Daniel, 17, have been badly af­fected by the drawn-out bat­tle.

“He has no con­fi­dence and never wants to play the pi­ano again.”

If suc­cess­ful, the in­junc­tion will also stop the fam­ily us­ing DVDs, lap­tops, loud speak­ers and mu­si­cal in­stru­ments in pub­lic places.

Nor will they be al­lowed to set up any dis­play stands, chairs or trol­leys in pub­lic.

The coun­cil will not re­turn the equip­ment con­fis­cated from the fam­ily and wants the Sh­effields to pay costs for seiz­ing the equip­ment and the coun­cil’s le­gal costs.

Michael and Daniel used to play the pi­ano on Queen St to raise money for their sis­ter Holly to study bal­let in Lon­don.

But they have not per­formed since 2006, when their key­boards were seized by the coun­cil for ex­ceed­ing a busk­ing time limit of 30 min­utes each, a limit the fam­ily dis­putes.

Since then, they have held small protests show­ing DVD footage of coun­cil se­cu­rity staff con­fis­cat­ing their equip­ment.

“The whole thing is ter­ri­fy­ing. Nei­ther of the boys play pi­ano any­more. They can’t re­mem­ber how to play,” says Carol.

She says the protests in­volve a lap­top and DVD player on a hand trol­ley, with a plac­ard at­tached.

It used to be on the cor­ner of Queen St and Vic­to­ria St, but they moved it to an area out­side a con­struc­tion site af­ter protests from the Heart of the City busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tion.

“There are no shops there and it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to hear the speak­ers from the DVD, but peo­ple can see the pic­tures,” says Carol.

The coun­cil would not com­ment on the ap­pli­ca­tion, which will be heard in the Auck­land Dis­trict Court.

A spokes­woman said it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment, since the mat­ter was be­fore the court.

The fam­ily is also due to have a con­fer­ence call with the coun­cil on May 28 re­gard­ing the orig­i­nal court ac­tion.

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