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

Memorandum by Kingston upon Hull City Council (TF 49)


  With regard to Hull Fair and Hull City Council's involvement with the event I am pleased to enclose a short resumé giving evidence of the success of Hull Fair and our relationship with the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain.

  Hull Fair, which we in Hull at least claim is Europe's largest travelling fun fair, has been established in the city by Royal Charter for over 700 years. The fair's current home is the Walton Street Fairground, a 14 acre complex in the west of the city which is surrounded to the south by parkland and to the west and north by housing. The fair is a traditional aspect of the city's year and such phrases as "Hull Fair weather" and "Hull Fair time" are part of local vocabulary. The event runs for eight days in early October and is attended by an estimated one million people and over 300 tenants.

  From the Hull City Council's point of view the event does cause some problems in the local community but a high profile customer care programme and the inclusion and implementation of the visitor management module in our Tourism Development Strategy means that complaints are kept to a minimum and in general the event is accepted by everyone.

  The fair is managed by the City Council who are responsible for the upkeep of the site and the staffing of the event. Over the past 10 years the authority has forged a strong partnership with the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain to move the event forward from a community fair to a major national tourist attraction. The success of this can be measured by the fact that Hull Fair is the busiest week of the year as far as the Humber Bridge is concerned. Extensive Park and Ride, residents parking and other management measures have been introduced by the authority to ensure we can handle these increased visitors.

  The authority meets every year with the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain to discuss visitor management, safety and development issues as well as to discuss rents. These meetings used to be of a formal nature through the Hull Fair Sub-Committee but with the introduction of "Agenda for Change" in the City Council this contact is now between the Chair and Deputy of the Showmen's Guild (Yorkshire Section) and the Executive Member for Quality of Life and his Senior Officer for the City Council. Day to day issues are discussed in this forum but the authority is always pleased to accept deputations from the Guild and the Executive Member in turn keeps the authority's Cabinet informed of any major changes or developments.

  The fairground is let to the showmen on a system based on family rights. The tenants are charged for a family site at the basic rate but if they wish to sublet this site they are charged double and if they wish to part with this site on a permanent basis they negotiate separately with the incoming tenant but will be charged treble rent for the first year. As new sites have been developed and old ones have been returned to the authority these have been made "floating" sites which are used to attract top quality new attractions to the event. Double rent is charged for these sites which attract fairground attractions from around Europe giving the event an innovative and pioneering feel.

  There is continual dialogue between the Guild and the City Council on a whole host of issues including safety, facility management, discipline of tenants, etc. Safety is the prime concern of the Showmen's Guild and the City Council and our record is extremely good. With one million visitors we can report no major injuries in 1998 and only a broken wrist and broken leg (both sustained off rides) in 1999. A resident team of safety staff and a close liaison with the Health and Safety Executive also assist this situation. Much of this success is down to the close working relationship between the Showmen's Guild and the City Council. This close working relationship between the Guild and the authority means that as far as rents are concerned the authority decides how much it needs to raise and then gives the Guild two or three alternatives with regard to increases so they can help identify market trends and from which of our areas of the operation the required increase in income can be obtained. In addition to rental charges on the fairground itself the authority also charges for caravan parking, lorry parking, the dealers who trade with the showmen and the hawkers and stallholders who trade in Walton Street. By using this method of setting the rents the Guild are able to have some involvement in the discussions whereas the authority at the end of the day get the increase they require.

  There is a strong working relationship between the authority and the Guild with regard to all aspects of Hull Fair and the success of the event in recent years can be contributed in no small part to this relationship. There have been disputes in the past but these have usually been solved, although if action has had to be taken against an individual showman on a safety issue, etc the authority has, in the interests of its customers, the public of the city, taken the necessary action and the Guild has understood this stance.

Head of Image and Promotion

February 2000

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