Kingstonfirst has defended the introduction of marked pitches for buskers after peformers denounced the scheme in a protest outside the Bentall Centre, writes Anthony Cornish.

Guitarist Tim Ostrowsky-Thomas complained of "sound clash" from buskers he said were too close together because they have been restricted to marked pitches.

The trial scheme is based on a code of conduct produced by Busk in London, an advocacy group backed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

Mr Ostrowsky-Thomas added: "We are also only allowed to play for one hour and then we have to move on, which is totally unrealistic because it takes 15 minutes to set up. That gives us only 45 minutes to play."

Violinist Philip Morgan said after this morning's protest: "It’s all gone rather sour. [Another busker] threatened me with the police if I didn’t move."

The new pitches are marked with high-visibility stickers.

Kingstonfirst chief executive Ros Morgan said: "We were attracted to Busk in London’s code because it is made up of buskers. [We] have adapted its guidelines to fit the needs of our town.

"We're not promoting any kind of licensing or regulation. It is an enhancement of what was already there. We have encouraged buskers to welcome other buskers in.

"We always welcome buskers. It's encouraged more people to come into the town."

The implementation of the voluntary scheme could be changed and pitches moved to accommodate musicians' concerns, while suggested limits on performance length would maintain variety, she added.

The Mayor of London's office originally said the move did not "reflect the aims of Busk in London, which is definitely not about regulation".

But in an updated statement a spokeswoman said: "Our team have now been in touch with Kingstonfirst and have been reassured that they share our desire for a common sense approach to busking and street performance.

"That involves liaison between local authorities, performers and businesses, to ensure Kingston continues to have a vibrant busking scene.

"We are working with Kingstonfirst to help them resolve this situation and ensure buskers can continue performing happily in the town."