Do you know the busker blocked our street . . . ?

Town clerk Jamie Baskeyfield is investigating after reports of a busker blocking St Mary’s Street with a piano

Town clerk Jamie Baskeyfield is investigating after reports of a busker blocking St Mary’s Street with a piano Buy this photo

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by

HE’S used to dealing with some of the demands of the biggest names in rock and pop at London’s legendary Hammersmith Apollo.

So Jamie Baskeyfield is the perfect choice to bridge the gap between artists and officialdom over a musical problem in Wallingford.

Wallingford Town Council is considering designated busking areas after complaints about a mystery entertainer. It said a piano-playing tunesmith partially blocked a Market Place crossing at St Mary’s Street for six hours one day last month.

While supporting free street performances, the council has asked town clerk Mr Baskeyfield to see if designated areas can be enforced.

He took up the role in July after 22 years managing venues like the Apollo, where he worked with stars such as David Bowie and Kylie Minogue, and the capital’s Apollo Victoria Theatre.

He said: “I would like to know how they manage it so it is not a free-for-all.

“They all seem to be in designated spots. We are very mindful of the needs of people in the area.”

He said: “In a reasonably controlled fashion it doesn’t create a nuisance.

“I think in due course it would be an idea to have some kind of control of busking in the town. I’m used to taking things in my stride. I do not tend to get starstruck.”

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Mr Baskeyfield will speak to Oxford City Council, whose city, he said, enjoyed “a very high quality of buskers”.

Busking is not illegal if it does not block public highways, footpaths, pavements or open pedestrian areas.

Town councillor Lynda Atkins said: “It is a question of whether it is worth investigating busking spots like they do in other towns and cities.”

August and September’s beer and music festival BunkFest showed live music has a place in town streets, she said.

She said: “We don’t get more than three or four a week so it is actually something we would welcome more of.”

Fellow town councillor Pat Granados said: “Nobody wanted to ban them altogether.

“They make it an exciting lively market place but it was difficult for wheelchair users to get by.

“That particular busker at that time chose the wrong place, but any other spot and nobody would have mentioned it.”

Guitar-playing charity busker David Hemming, 51, of St John’s Road, said designated spots were a “great idea”.

He said: “People feel it adds to the vibrancy of a town and gives something extra.

“But I don’t think there would be any problem with there being a few places designated in Wallingford to go.

“Buskers don’t want to get in the way anyway.”

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