Up North: Should we be targeting sellers, don’t they make up Manchester and other cities?

Market Street is notoriously impossible to walk down on a Saturday without encountering various charity fundraisers, street preachers and pedlars. Admittedly, on a rainy afternoon when your brolly is flipped inside out the last thing you want is to be guilt tripped by a dreadlocked student with a clipboard. Let’s face it, there are certain individuals on the high street whose pushiness can often seem to be a nuisance. There is now an initiative by Manchester City Council and the Manchester Metropolitan Police Force to crack down on unofficial street vendors and performers.  

This would in many ways be beneficial for shoppers who want to browse in peace. However, I personally would worry where the line would be drawn. Street music and artists have long been part of the fabric of city culture, and a means of bringing individuality and character back to our often homogeneous high streets. More every fire and brimstone would be converter, there is a talented Saxophonist, Breakdancer or Poet. Many talented buskers have gone on to become successful musicians. A differentiation needs to be made between those who are legitimately bringing creativity to the high street and those who are hassling shoppers to an unreasonable level.      

Moreover, the language used by the council in regards to this initiative is a little discomforting; describing the people in question as “clogging up” the high street. This action is worrying in that it seems to follow the trend of ruthless gentrification of Manchester city centre in recent years, where those considered to be undesirable are pushed further towards the outskirts so as not to soil Manchester’s new, gleaming yuppie image. Homeless people living in the city centre has been cracked down on, despite protests, as the price of rent in the city centre has skyrocketed.   

 

Most people who go into casual employment such as pedalling goods do so because of limited job opportunities. I myself have had jobs that  Perhaps the council needs to address these underlying employment issues before targeting the sellers themselves.     

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