Bagpiper playing ‘Scotland the Brave’ offered money to go away

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An enthusiastic bagpiper has sparked complaints and been offered money to go away – over his performances of ‘Scotland The Brave’ in a city centre.

George Sinclair, 49, originally from Glasgow, recently moved to Marston near Oxford and has been trying to entertain shoppers with faithful Scottish anthems.

Busking bagpiper George Sinclair, 49, who is dividing opinion over his performances

Busking bagpiper George Sinclair, 49, who is dividing opinion over his performances

But not everybody is enjoying his passionate playing as office workers in Clarendon Business Centre – George’s favourite spot – have complained and asked him to move on.

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Oxford City Council no longer asks buskers to apply for a permit, but they have to adhere to a code of practice.

This means they can only play for an hour at a time at a number of selected busking locations in the city centre.

George Sinclair, 49, near one of his favourite busking spots

George Sinclair, 49, near one of his favourite busking spots

George, who works as a cook when he is not playing bagpipes, said: “On the whole the people in Oxford have been very welcoming.

“But staff at the Clarendon Centre have complained to me and asked me to move on.

“One shopper said ‘I hate bagpipes – it makes me want to leave Oxford’, so I directed him to the railway station.

“I’m enjoying playing and my set only lasts one hour in any spot. I make sure I stick to the rules and I’m looking forward to playing here as often as I can.”

George added: “I know there was a bagpiper here before who ran into trouble and eventually decided to move to Australia.

“Of course I don’t want that to happen to me. I like Oxford, it feels quite relaxed.”

There are a number of different pitches for buskers to play at, including the one favoured by Mr Sinclair at the junction with Market Street.

He said: “The man who used to run the market stall here had a joke with me and kept offering me £5 to go away.”

The sound of the pipes is going down well with tourists and is also impressing fellow Glaswegian Robert McEvoy, who works at Feller’s butchers in the Covered Market.

He said: “I really like hearing the old songs, especially if I’m feeling a bit homesick. I’m looking to buy a new kilt and George gave me some advice on where I could get one.”

Buskers are asked not to repeat material on the same pitch and cannot return to the same pitch within two hours of leaving it.

In 2007 traders launched a petition to have Heath Richardson moved, but the piper, who was living in Chipping Norton at the time, hit back and got 500 fans to sign a petition backing him.

The Oxford Bagpipe Man Haters’ Club was formed on a MySpace site, with 200 members, but on Facebook others joined a support group for Mr Richardson.

The bagpiper eventually gave in and left Oxford to emigrate to Australia.

In the city council Buskers Code of Practice, buskers are advised: “Ask businesses to speak to you directly in the event that they have a problem, or need to ask you to make any changes to your act.

“This should help to create a good relationship between you and the people around you.

“Always be polite to members of the public, members of the business community and public officials in the event that someone needs to speak to you.”

Natasha Turner, area manager of Clarendon Business Centre, said none of the businesses which leased premises had complained to her.

She said: “The last guy was a huge problem because he was there all day.

“The businesses here are on flexible short-term leases and we wouldn’t want anything to put them off.”

George insists his repertoire is a varied one, including A Man’s A Man, Cock O’ The North, Bonnie Lass O’ Fyvie, Keel Row, Lord Lovat’s Lament, and Nut Brown Maiden.