The Environment. Transport & Regional AffairsCommittee Investigation(The Committee)In 2000 the Committee decided to conduct a short inquiry into travelling Fairs as a result of representations that travelling Showpeople were getting a raw deal in modern Britain, and a suggestion that perhaps travelling Fairs were no longer relevant in an era of theme parks and computer games.The Committee’s terms of reference were:1.the continued value of historic travelling Fairs;2.the provision of sites for travelling Fairs;3.the particular needs of travelling Showpeople in carrying out their trade;4.the effectiveness of existing planning guidance on the provision of quarters for travelling Showpeople;5.whether any action was necessary to ensure that appropriate regard was had to the needs of travelling Showpeople within the planning system; and6.any other matters which arose in the course of questioning.Among the recommendations and conclusions of the Committee were the following:1.We totally reject the view that Travelling Fairs have had their day. We recognise that, well run, they can give immense pleasure. It is a foolish local authority, which does not do all it can to encourage the staging of traditional travelling Fairs.2.We are very strongly in favour of an urban renaissance. No large community ought to be without a central focus for public entertainment, a place where events such as Funfairs can be held. Villages, towns and cities with such spaces ought to ensure they are designed to make holding Funfairs easy, with good access to services such as water and electricity, while those which do not have such areas ought to be striving to get them, as recommended in the current Planning Policy Guidance Note 17 (PPG17). Further, we recommend that the revised PPG17 make specific reference to the value of historic travelling Fairs and the role which they can play in the regeneration of town centres.3.It is clear to us that many local authorities are not properly considering the needs of travelling Showpeople, either during the preparation of their development plans, or when considering individual applications for sites for travelling Showpeople’s depots. We welcome the undertaking given to us by the Local Government Association to draw the attention of its members to the existence of Circular 22/91, so that it no longer “languishes in the bottom drawer” of planning officers’ desks. Local authorities must take their responsibilities towards travelling Showpeople, as outlined in Circular 22/91, as seriously as they take their responsibilities to any other sector of society.4.All local authorities should heed the advice contained in Circular 22/91 and ensure that they consider the needs of travelling Showpeople when preparing their development plans. We emphasise that the primary responsibility for ensuring that adequate provision is made for the needs of travelling Showpeople in a particular area lies with the local planning authority. Nevertheless, it would greatly assist the process if the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain became more vigorously and systematically involved in the drawing up of both regional and local development plans. Where no provision for Showpeople’s sites is made in the development plan for an area where the Guild has identified a need for such site, an appeal should be made to the Secretary of State.
The work of the Committee is a welcome beneficial development for members of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain. A copy of the full report of the ‘Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee Investigation (The Committee) can be obtained from HMSO We are very pleased to report that in 2007 Circular 22/91 was replaced by “Communities and Local Government Circular 04/2007”.