A new Bill proposed by Scottish Parliament to unify funfair licensing fees could prove a welcome boost to the country’s showmen community, a move enthusiastically welcomed by the Scottish Showmen’s Guild.
The Scottish Parliament is to consider a bill unifying the licensing requirements for members of the travelling funfair community across the country’s 32 local authorities, following the formation of the Scottish Showmen’s Guild cross party group.
With each of the councils currently charging wildly varying fees, the Funfairs Licensing (Scotland) Bill seeks to bring the system in line with English regulation, reducing the time and cost of the application process.
“The bill basically brings a three-month application down to a month, sets a fee of £50, which can then be increased in line with inflation, sets that showmen can nominate two sites and also sets that food vans are under the individual licence,” said Richard Lyle MSP.
“Funfairs and show people in Scotland have been up against it and as far as I’m concerned, this will open up, encourage and retain funfairs for quite a number of years.”
The move has been encouraged by the Scottish Showmen’s Guild, following increasing difficulties in maintaining traditional funfairs in the face of inconsistent licensing costs, administration and legislative process.
“In Edinburgh, your normal person who has two or three rides, you’re talking thousands of pounds for a licence,” president of the guild Philip Paris told Holyrood. “You can go to other places and it will be £300/£400 to put the same thing on.”
“If the amendment goes through – which we are very hopeful of – it will be a level playing field where it’s one fee for everywhere, and it’s the same timescale and everything else is the same.”
The Bill has been welcomed as a step in the right direction for the 200 families still operating travelling funfairs around Scotland, and a positive indication for the future of the showmen community as a whole.
“I don’t think it’s a dying industry, I think it’s changing,” added Paris. “There are some people within our business that are on the up and are accumulating a lot of equipment.”
“I think there will always be people who want to be in it. There’s people who have two or three sons who are all interested in the business and want to move things forward.”