DURING a council meeting to decide if a barrier should be removed from Jericho’s Walton Street, public speakers bore witness to a livestreamed haircut.
As councillors, transport experts, residents and traders debated the future of the barrier during the Oxfordshire County Council meeting yesterday, a hairdresser’s salon could be seen in one chat window, with a haircut taking place just off screen.
This was James Salter, the owner of Cowboymod and Son Emporium, a hair salon on Walton Street, who was busy at work with a customer as he waited his turn to speak in favour of removing the barrier at the bottom of his road, placed there in late 2019.
The live haircut prompted some perturbed looks from other speakers, who could not help but glance away from their scripted speeches, while council employees stopped in their stride as they were giving important information about the road closure.
“I wanted to attend the meeting, but I was clear I didn’t want to turn away business,” said Mr Salter, who has run Cowboymod for more than 25 years.
Ahead of his speaking slot, Mr Salter could be seen using his scissors to trim the hair of a customer, who remained off camera.
As the meeting went on, he whipped away the towel protecting the customers clothes from falling hairs, totted up the bill, and bid goodbye to the man whose hair had been cut.
The salon owner, artist and musician lives above his Walton Street premises and spoke at the meeting to give his support to removing the barrier, debate over which has divided the local community.
Though he said he was pleased to have seen it removed, he added there was a need to solve the problem of cars using Walton Street as a shortcut.
He said: “It is kind of obvious Walton Street cannot be closed, but they do need to think about through traffic. It could even be something simple like making parking wider in the street or making chicanes.”
The salon owner, who lives above his shop, has filled it with an eclectic mix of décor, and said it makes him feel at home.
Cowboymod’s name was inspired by his passion for music and his taste in fashion.
“I don’t consider myself a normal hairdresser. Paul Weller and the Jam are my musical heroes ultimately. If I was a mod I would ride around on a Lambretta but I drive a Harley Davidson.
“The cowboy link is from the fact that half of my family are out in America and they ride rodeo and ride horses et cetera. But my bike is also a bit of a ‘cowboy builder’ of a Harley, it is not quite good at being Mod!”
He also took to wearing a cowboy hat after taking motorcycle rides to London to photograph his favourite musicians like Paul Weller and Oasis.
As well as being a hairdresser, Mr Salter is a musician, sculptor, photographer and painter.
Virtual meetings have provided a window into the lives of politicians and public speakers during the coronavirus pandemic.
In January, a Lincolnshire councillor was fined £200 after spending the first 20 minutes of a Zoom meeting driving a lorry, and the saga of Jackie Weaver and Handforth Parish Council took the internet by storm in February.
Other councillors have been interrupted by dogs, national politicians children have come careering into TV interviews, and in Canada an MP entered a meeting naked recently.
In the UK, councils will have to return to face to face meetings from May 7 onwards as special rules allowing them to meet virtually will run out then.
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