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

Memorandum by the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain, Northern Section (TF 06)


  We are fortunate in the North East as our section have three winter sites, but some of our members in the past have had problems trying to get planning permission as individuals. Our members are hard working and law abiding citizens, who are probably running the business their ancestors have handed down to them, on many occasions spanning over five or six generations. To own their own property is seldom, because of planning difficulties. Hopefully your committee will look at our problems.


  The problems in the North East are not getting better, because of the closure of the coal mines in our area, we have lost many Miners Welfare Sites. Indeed the biggest day in the miner's calendar is Durham Miner's Gala, although this is still held annually. There are no large rides allowed because of the huge rent that is being asked. The Seaham area is difficult to obtain land for a fair because of development.

  One of our members lost his fair site at Washington, Tyne and Wear, because his family had been dealing with Usworth Council for 55 years, when the land was developed, they were allowed another site at the Washington Galleries forming Washington Development Corporation. This was fine until the land was taken over by a private company called (Pensions Trust) then they stopped the family from operating their fair on the site.

  Another member has over a period of forty years held an annual fair in Saltwell Park, Gateshead. Recently he was refused permission from Gateshead Metropolitan Council because it was not suitable. We later learnt that this was because there was a mugging near the park that had nothing to do with the Fair, but it was stopped from attending again.

  The Showmen need help to obtain both winter quarters and fun fair sites, we are self-employed people, supplying entertainment to the public, with a very strict safety procedure to go through, and are not funded in any way, nor do we want to be.

  This is our business and heritage, we don't want hand outs, but we would like recognition for what we do, and who we are.

  I hope you can help our members, and thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

John C Culine

February 2000

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