Guild Central Office has detailed lobbying actions following a successful virtual meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fairs & Showgrounds (APPG) on Wednesday 17th March.
Eight MPs and their parliamentary assistants attended along with representatives of fairground and circus industry associations.
- Central Office thanked the APPG for their successful assistance in lobbying the Treasury for retention of the red diesel reduced-tax concession for fairs’ & circuses’ machinery (including caravans) after April 2022, when it runs out for many others. Details will be ironed out with the Treasury.
- Since the meeting with the Culture Minister and the APPG in January there has been positive dialogue with the DCMS Tourism Team. This has resulted in details on the reopening plans (not before 12th April for fairs and 17th May for circuses) and the Visitor Economy Guidance being produced for showmen and councils. This ties in with industry guidances.
The APPG MPs listened to Guild concerns that there is little clarity on what local councils will be happy with and that Directors of Public Health at all levels have little understanding of who Showmen are and what they do and are ill-disposed to allowing fairs.
On Friday 19th March the APPG MPs wrote to the CEO of the Assn. of Directors of Public Health spelling this out and urging a meeting with the Guild and asking them to inform all their local Directors of Public Health, who Showmen now have to deal with.
- A similar letter was written to the CEO of the Local Government Assn (LGA) to urge all local councils to work with Showmen and to liaise constructively with the Directors of Public Health – which is a current concern. The LGA did previously publish such a letter for the Guild; this is stronger coming from the APPG.
- The APPG MPs also wrote to the Local Government Minister, urging him to write to all local councils to instruct them all to look positively at fair & circus applications as important businesses in the roadmap to reopening the economy and not to put obstacles in Showmen’s way.
- A further letter was sent to the Crime & Policing Minister expressing concern that the Guild was not consulted on the recent Firearms Safety Bill going through parliament on the possible restriction on some shooting galleries (‘Miniature Rifle Ranges’). Whilst awaiting a response, the Guild is submitting a response to the consultation anyway, to protect members’ rights to trade in the future.
- There was a discussion on the administration of Low Emission Zones (LEZs / ULEZs) and Clean Air Zones (CAZs) so that there is uniform administration of these nationwide and so there can be proper oversight of the mushrooming schemes by Westminster, regarding Showmen’s discounts and extensions being retained and honoured. Meetings with Transport for London (TfL) and with the Transport Minister are being planned.
- The APPG MPs have already contacted the Westminster Business Dept. who administer local government grants, to make the guidance for councils clearer to assist Showmen.
- The Guild has also worked with others, including the Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) to achieve this. There is new clearer, fairer, guidance now which was sent to members on Tuesday (23rd March). More money is being made available to councils to distribute, along with Government pressure on them to do so.
- The Guild has also received a reply to its January letter to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng MP, in which he acknowledged both the Showmen’s Guild’s position and needs of the fairground industry.
The Guild is confident that its voice is being heard in Westminster and is actively working on this being followed through regionally and locally, to assist members in getting open when they can and getting funding when they can’t.
Queries on these issues should be directed to Section offices.