KING’S LYNN: Mart deal ‘done’, but reform row goes on
A deal over arrangements for this year’s Lynn Mart has finally been reached, only two weeks before the event opens, fair operators said yesterday.
Officials from the Showman’s Guild of Great Britain, which represents the people who run rides at the historic fair, and West Norfolk Council have been embroiled in a row over plans to cut the length of the fair and end the customary Valentine’s Day opening.
But Guild representatives claimed yesterday afternoon, as the Lynn News went to press, that a deal had been reached to secure this year’s fair, though differences remain between the two parties over how the event will be organised in the future.
John Thurston, chairman of the Guild’s Norwich and eastern counties branch, said the fair would open on Thursday, February 14 and close on Saturday, February 23.
But he added that a single ride would remain on the Tuesday Market Place on the following Monday and Tuesday, February 25 and 26, to maintain what the Guild insists is its right to stage the fair over a two-week period.
Mr Thurston said Guild officials had signed the document “reluctantly”, amid the ongoing dispute over proposed future reforms to the fair, but recognised a deadlock had developed.
He said: “It was just a stand-off. No-one was going to give any ground.”
He added that further talks would take place after this year’s Mart over how the event will be organised in future years.
West Norfolk Council representatives had not commented on the Guild’s claim as the Lynn News went to press.
However, earlier in the day, a spokesman had admitted the authority could not confirm arrangements for the fair.
She said the council was waiting for a copy of the licence arrangements for the fair to be signed and returned to them by the Guild.
She added: “Until that is returned, we can’t confirm what the details for the Mart are.”
The developments came just days after Guild leaders revealed during a borough council meeting that they were taking legal action against the council, in support of their claim that plans to shorten the fair from the traditional two weeks to eight or nine days and end the customary Valentine’s Day opening would breach its historic charter.
But Mr Thurston said yesterday that they did not want to launch legal proceedings unless they had to.
As previously reported, the Guild has been consulting experts from the National Fairground Archive, based at the University of Sheffield, in support of their case that the changes proposed by a task group set up following the death of three-year-old Rio Bell in a road accident during last year’s event, contravene the fair’s royal charter.
But council chiefs have claimed their legal team advised them they have the right to decide if and when the fair is held.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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