KING’S LYNN: Traditional fair date ‘under council threat’
Fairground operators have accused councillors of trying to “destroy” the Mart by planning to move the traditional opening date.
The Showman’s Guild of Great Britain says West Norfolk Council does not need to “tamper” with the February 14 start date to meet calls to improve road safety.
Councillors have agreed to reduce the length of the fair from a fortnight to eight or nine days following the death of three-year-old Rio Bell after an accident in Kings Street during this year’s event.
Former chairman Michael Gray is calling on the council to close the road on Children’s Day and weekends. He posed a question during the full council meeting on Tuesday. Mr Gray said: “Why is the council trying to destroy the oldest historic Lynn Mart fair by moving the opening date of February 14.”
He later added:“The council does not need to tamper with the dates, surely they should have listened to the people of Lynn’s 5,000 signature petition asking for the road to close.”
Cabinet member for health and wellbeing Elizabeth Nockolds said there was strong support for the fair.
She told the meeting that the Mart will continue to open on Valentine’s Day until 2014 with a review for the following years.
Mrs Nockolds said: “We are not destroying the Mart. We want to work with you and want to have a suitable, high quality environment in which your customers feel safe.”
Mrs Nockolds also reported the findings of coroner William Armstrong at the conclusion of Rio’s inquest. Mr Armstrong stated the council’s response was “considered and proportionate”.
After the meeting Mr Gray, whose family has been involved with the Mart for six generations, was disappointed.
He said: “The road needs to be closed on children’s day out of pure respect for the Bell family. Saturday nights need to be closed. I feel the council has started from the wrong basis.
“February 14 has been a historic start date for this since Henry VIII granted a charter.”
But former council worker Barrie Loftus said the charter granted by Henry VIII allowed the mayor and burgess to hold two fairs and two weekly markets. He added that the charter does not specify the Mart has to be held on Tuesday Market Place but can be “within the borough”.
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Weather for King's Lynn
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 6 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west