Freedom day delay: The Showmen’s perspective

fairs Philip Paris Showmen's Guild of Great Britain
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It hasn’t been easy for showmen over the past months with local authorities reticent to open fairs. With only 400 staged in the last eight weeks, an extremely low rate against 10,000 normally held each year, the Showmen’s Guild remain concerned.

 

PHILIP PARIS PRESIDENT SHOWMEN’S GUILD OF GREAT BRITAIN

 

As with others on the leisure sector, the Showmen’s Guild watched the announcement from the Prime Minister on Monday evening with concern.

For, while the announcement’s contents, that overall, the release of lockdown under Stage 4 of the Govt’s Roadmap had been delayed by four weeks, was not a complete surprise, its implications would severely impact the Guild’s 2,500 operating members.

So far, there have been 400 fairs enabled under stages 2 and 3 of the Roadmap since 12th April, and 14th May respectively, for which we are all grateful; especially as business has been buoyant, if hard won with local authorities; however, this is low compared to the 10,000 fairs annually that take place in settings overall including festivals, Carnivals, Air shows, corporate events and the Heritage Streetfairs and major landmark events across the UK.

The hesitation among local authorities nationwide has increased, leading up to Monday’s announcement, with limitations on events and refusals in several areas; including disproportionate closures by health chiefs in the Midlands. We can see this pattern increasing.

Meanwhile, in The Devolved Territories of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the slower gains made by the Guild in persuading the governments in Holyrood; Cardiff and Stormont, along with the local councils in those areas, are in danger of being slowed, as a reverberative effect, following previous rollout patterns.

The Showmen’s customer base includes many affected more directly by the latest government delay; as local businesses feel the negative economic effects and budgets for discretionary spend are tighter.

Of more immediate concern are the Euros and not specifically a win for England or any country, but the summer soccer distraction; even with pubs and other settings not fully open.

Beyond this, if the weather holds up and the appetite for ‘staycationing’ continues, Fair operators who are operational stand to sustain business for the time being.


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