LOCAL buskers have been ordered off their traditional pitch – to make way for a German market.
City bosses have told Hampshire musicians they are not welcome this Christmas at their traditional pitch outside WestQuay shopping centre.
They say they will clash with a Bavarian bar pumping tunes out on its PA system.
Full-time busker Rob Berry, a 49-year-old dad from Locks Heath, said: “It is ironic isn’t it?
“The council has decided to displace those that are most vulnerable and unable to help themselves in favour of one German business operator. It’s prejudice towards our traditions.
“It is not that I am anti-German, I would love to go over there and play.
“It’s just that I can’t see why we can’t co-exist – because buskers nearly always perform over the lunch period from 10.30am to 3pm.”
From double bass jazz sets to blues and folk music ensembles, buskers pitching amid the Christmas shoppers outside the shopping centre have been a familiar site for the past 15 years.
Mr Berry said: “These performances allowed local musicians to promote themselves for employment and also earn a little extra money from the traditional practice of busking.”
Last year they played opposite the German bar.
But they faced competing with pre-recorded “oompah” music blaring out from speakers.
Now officials say they have to move near the Bargate which musicians argue is not the place to pull in an audience.
They also questioned the economic wisdom of shunning local musicians when the German bar brings its supplies and staff from the continent.
Folk guitarists Olivia Phipps, 21, from Highfield, said: “I don’t understand why they are restricting them, it makes no sense.
“Street music is a great thing and they should be encouraging it which is a great shame because it dying out.”
But once contacted by the Daily Echo, deputy leader Councillor Jacqui Rayment, said: “Now that the concerns of the buskers have been brought to our attention, we are happy to review the situation and find a way forward together so that they can contribute positively to the Christmas market and that visitors can more readily enjoy their entertainment.”