Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 265 - 279)




  265. Can I welcome you to the second session this morning on Travelling Fairs. Can I ask you to identify yourselves, for the record, please?
  (Mr Loveday) I am David Loveday. I am a planning consultant.
  (Mr Baseley) I am Ian Baseley. I am a planning consultant, and I have represented travelling showpeople for the last 14 years, and also assisted in the drafting of Circular 22/91.

Mrs Dunwoody

  266. It is your fault, dare I say?
  (Mr Baseley) Precisely.
  (Ms Montgomery) My name is Janet Montgomery. I am a planning consultant and surveyor. I have been acting for travelling showpeople, as well as other clients, for the last ten years, and assisted the Showmen's Guild in the preparation of their Model Standard Package, which deals with planning issues.


  267. Thank you very much. Do any of you want to make any introductory remarks, or are you happy to go straight to questions?
  (Ms Montgomery) Straight to questions.

  Chairman: Thank you.

Mr Donohoe

  268. What representations, if any, have you made to Government about the loss of travelling sites in the centre of towns?
  (Ms Montgomery) This is fairground sites, you are concerned with?

  269. Yes?
  (Ms Montgomery) I have made some representations on behalf of the Guild, last year, to the Development Control Policy Division, highlighting some of the problems that I had been alerted to by the Showmen's Guild, of loss of fairground sites and the problems that they were having in retaining those. Some months later I did get a response from the DETR, really giving me the opinion that they did not feel that it would be appropriate to have any detailed guidance through any Planning Policy Guidance Notes; or, indeed, I suggested perhaps a direction, not dissimilar to the `loss of playing-fields' direction that came out last year, that may afford some protection to the fairground sites within town centres. So the response I received was that they did not feel that it was significant enough to warrant any special mention within any Planning Policy Guidance Notes, or, indeed, an individual direction.

  270. Have you any evidence that there has been a shrinkage in that respect, as far as fairgrounds in centres of towns are concerned?
  (Ms Montgomery) The evidence really is through the showmen themselves, that have been passed on to myself, and the evidence that we have heard through this.

  271. But you are not aware, as a consultant, are you, that there has been any audit done, that this is a particular problem, in order that it can be quantified, that it is not just anecdotal, that it is actual fact that there has been this reduction, and it is down to the fact that they are losing these sites because of contraction?
  (Ms Montgomery) The evidence that I have got is, again, through the showmen, but it would appear that it is through the pedestrianisation in town centre enhancement schemes; that then puts the fairground site itself and the prominence of that in the planning system at a very low priority, as to what is worth retaining and what is not worth retaining. And that is the impression that I have got, through that.

  272. So what would you say, what would be your recommendation?
  (Ms Montgomery) I would like to see some cross-referencing within some of the Planning Policy Guidance Notes. For example, on the PPG6, which deals with town centres, the importance that fairgrounds have to the vitality and viability of town centres, for example, but there was just a reference to fairgrounds; so I think the local authorities would pay more attention to the priority that it should give to fairgrounds within the planning system and within the redevelopment schemes that might come forward, whether it is local authority driven, or private development driven. I have also suggested the possibility of cross-referencing in Planning Policy Guidance Note 17, which is sport and recreation, whereby there are some fairs that take place on recreation grounds, and, therefore, if there are any developments that might affect recreation grounds, they should consider whether or not a fairground actually exists there as well.

  273. I think you have also made mention of PPG21?
  (Ms Montgomery) Twenty-one is another one which is to do with tourism, and some fairs do provide a very good tourist attraction, they are promoted by local authorities, and I think a reference within PPG21 could well give local authorities, again, the indication.

  274. When you are making representations, do you mention these aspects, do you indicate the actual strengths of the argument, in terms of tourism, in particular; is that part of what you would do?
  (Ms Montgomery) Yes, I would like to promote that, and, as I said, the representations that I have made have just been a letter highlighting these three, I did highlight these three.

  Mr Donohoe: Where would you see this as being an important element; it would not be necessarily in the rural areas, you could attract tourists, could you not, into the more urban areas, and probably have done, as far as fairs are concerned? Would you, or any of your colleagues, make that part of the representations that you make, in terms of trying to open the doors, as far as this contraction that is perceived as taking place is concerned; is it something that you have actively encouraged as being part of the representations that you make on behalf of the showmen themselves? You all look blank.


  275. Give us one example of where you would say a fair has a significant impact on tourism?
  (Mr Loveday) Nottingham.

Mr Donohoe

  276. Why do you say Nottingham?
  (Mr Loveday) Nottingham Goose Fair is not only a local fair but it is a regional, almost national, fair; it is probably one of the principal fairs in the country and draws not just showmen but members of the public from all over.

  277. Are you aware of any monies coming in from the local tourist group, to assist the marketing of that particular fair?
  (Mr Loveday) I am not aware, no.

  278. Do you not think that that is what should happen?
  (Mr Loveday) I think, if you are going to include fairs in a strategy for tourism in a region, or in a urban area, then, yes, that is very important; it has not just got to be the local authority, it has got to be the regional and national bodies that support tourism, and the like, which can be involved. I see no problem with that.


  279. But there have been some problems, have there not, with the site for the Goose Fair in Nottingham? So is that an example of a local authority not really understanding just how successful that event is, in tourist terms?
  (Mr Baseley) I would like to say that if any local authority ought to know what good a fair does, Nottingham ought to know, because it has been going for many, many years and it is a very, very important and very successful fair. The fact that it may or may not have had problems over the last few years, I would ask you to draw your own conclusion. The showmen themselves, I heard from the last group, they actually want the fairs to continue, there is a continuing need in the public's mind and a demand for them; it is other issues that seem to impinge upon the fair, rather than giving the fair the priority.

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