Ex-buskers fight on
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.