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The truth about disability abuse & the insidious eradication of disabled performers in London

John is the last surviving disabled busker in London standing alone against the vested interest of money and power to rid the streets of disabled performers

John Smith is an independent disabled musician who represents years of disability discrimination by Westminster City Council. John Smith returned his Westminster City Council (WCC) Street Performers Licence until such time as WCC abide by the law and offer equality to disabled musicians with a street performers policy that includes provision for disabled performers and does not restrict performance by disabled performers in the streets surrounding Covent Garden.


Westminster City Council and the Met Police seem perfectly happy to ignore every code law and disability pledge in an effort to eradicate disabled performers in London. This is why there are no more disabled performers left in London, just me. This did not happen by accident. What is more concerning is that WCC is a Labour controlled council directly supporting this direction of travel on disability.

Disability discrimination hate speech on-line lies and abuse unfortunately are part of the challenges for disabled performers.

Unfortunately when this happens the results can be devastating as has happened to John under his stage name of Guy Stewart......Click for news story

Following this complaint John was badly assaulted by another busker. This is the true consequence of disability abuse and mistrust spread by people in authority. The Police took a video statement from the busker who assaulted me, then told me they had lost the video so could not continue with the case. 

Bath City Council allowed the buskers to self govern without any of the legal guidance training or experience required by law when managing anyone, particularly vulnerable disabled people. The result was that I was the third disabled musician to be assaulted by a busker put in charge in Bath.

The reason I started busking in Bath was because my Brother was dying from cancer so I moved to Bristol to help care for him. My Brother could not work so I, as a trained singer and musician, busked in Bath to make ends meet.

I was the last disabled musician to perform in Bath because if you allow enough disabled people to be abused, beaten up and assaulted, eventually most will stop coming. Take note Covent Garden.

While performing in Covent Garden I've faced intimidation and last week threatening behaviour from some workers because I have the backing of my MP Vicky Foxcroft MP the Shadow Minister for Disability in seeking to view the new street performers policy. Nobody should have to face any of this because they go to work for a living as a disabled person. 

Westminster City Council have a legal obligation to address issues such as disability discrimination and abuse, by buskers in Covent Garden, but instead just brush it under the carpet because it's cheaper than actually doing their job and write policy that includes disabled people.

I had a fall while busking in Covent Garden that helped put me back into a wheelchair. I asked WCC to move a waist bin away from the busking pitch as it was in part responsible for my fall, they left it there. Its still there. I asked WCC to retain the video of the fall, they refused. This signals to everyone that it is OK to put disabled peoples lives at risk, because WCC do. Apparently WCC are above the law! So WCC are to blame.

The bin is supposed to be at least one meter away from the pitch with a disabled performer for safety. WCC deliberately left it right next to the pitch, then complained that disabled performers where not using the pitch. This is just dishonest and reckless. The Covent Garden security were requested to keep a copy of the video of the fall, but refused. They were asked to fill out a incident repot and refused. This means they broke the law.

Fortunately, I and some helpers have been keeping records and I hope at some point we can get all this into a court or tribunal. 

None of this would have taken place had I not been disabled. 

When your in a wheelchair threatening behaviour such as being stared down might be fine in a pub, because your able to walk away, but if like me your in a wheelchair, its no different than being held up against a brick wall, which is why it's a criminal offence. These are all the unseen unintended consequences of asking untrained unqualified buskers to manage people that in law, requires proper HR oversight and training.

I am qualified and have managed a team assisting disabled people into independent living, so having the Police & Westminster Council add to the problem by doing absolutely nothing about abuse, violence and intimidation, signals it's OK to abuse disabled people. Just as happened in Bath, and now London.

Not once has John ever allowed disability or the establishment to dictate what a disabled persons life should be.

When obstacles are placed in his way it just makes him more determined to succeed.

When the establishment sow the seeds of mistrust about disabled people I sometimes wonder.

Who in fact is Disabled?

My excuse is that I use a wheelchair, what's theirs?

John Smith aka Dr Jazz Sax has released 2 albums, ''Late Night Sax'' & ''A Deep Breath''. He has broadcast as a DJ on 5 FM radio stations in the Northwest Manchester and Liverpool and performed as a vocalist around the world.

He has held Broadcast licenses including PPL PRS and MCR music licenses in the UK since starting WCR Radio in South London in 1985. In 2010 he started Mind Body Spirit Radio.net online broadcasting to millions of people in the USA and Canada. Then he took the vision to TV and made a series of talk programs ''Healing The Spirit'' broadcast through various niche channels on the Sky network.

He has been a maverick preferring to plough his own furrow instead of following the crowd. 

John as been disabled all his life starting at age 12 with Epilepsy, at 14 years with Spinal Stenosis, finally entered a wheelchair in 2014. He has suffered heart failure 4 times with surgery twice. and still works everyday. An operation saw him spend 2 years walking again, to be back in a wheelchair in Nov 2023 due to a fall while performing in Covent Garden.

Like so many people he is waiting for his 4th NHS spinal operation that would hopefully see him walking again.

''In 1985 Radio 1 turned me down, so I started my own radio station instead, WCR in South London, and gave myself a job''

John also worked for Westminster City Council as a team leader assisting people with mental health disabilities back into independent living. 

John is an ordained minister in the USA.

There has been a push by all authorities towards ending street busking in London including Covent Garden. The increasing suburbanisation of central London with quieter roads from the increasing use of electric cars coupled with an end to a music and entertainment based night time economy means street busking will eventually end. 

 

John Smith performing outside in Covent Garden.

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