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

Memorandum by the Local Government Association (TF 27)

  The LGA would specifically like to comment in particular, on issues four and five raised in the inquiry relating to travelling fairs. This response is on the basis of a circular to all authorities.

The Effectiveness of Existing Planning Guidance on the Provision of Quarters for Travelling Showpeople

  In general, the LGA considers that the current planning guidance covering the needs of travelling showpeople is adequate, and in particular, many authorities made reference to the DoE Circular 22/91 which they felt provided clear guidance for local authorities on this issue.

  In most cases, specific needs for travelling fairs, with regard to issues such as electricity, access and health and safety regulations, are incorporated within local authorities general planning policy, as outlined in their local plan.

Whether Any Action is Necessary to Ensure that Appropriate Regard is Had to the Needs of Travelling Showpeople Within the Planning System

  Again, the LGA considers that current legislation gives appropriate regard to the needs of travelling showpeople. Many local authorities, however, felt they were in a difficult position in locating suitable sites for fairs while having regard to factors such as "Areas of Natural Beauty", green belts, and pressure from development. Issues such as complaints from neighbours near to sites relating to noise and general disturbance from travelling fairs was also of concern to many local authorities. A significant amount of officer time for some authorities was therefore spent in finding suitable sites for travelling fairs that provided for minimal disruption and adverse conditions to the general public, while also being suitable for the fairs and showpeople themselves. In some cases, this problem was averted where there was a history of travelling fairs in local authority areas, and suitable sites had been negotiated over many years and were incorporated within the local plan.

  For the most part, local planning authorities are already selecting appropriate sites for travelling fairs based on the needs of travelling showpeople, including regard for issues of access, water and electricity supply, as well as other options such as storage facilities for goods, machinery, etc when not in use.

  In general, the LGA considers that travelling fairs continue to be popular, and are important in both a social and economic sense for both residents and showpeople alike. Where there is a long tradition of travelling shows in an area, they also have a continued historic value.

Delis Aston
Policy Officer, Planning

February 2000

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