Showmen disappointed at cancellation of Thame fair and are concerned for the future

Thame Fair
Thame Fair

The Showmen’s Guild have expressed their disappointment at the cancellation of this week’s Thame Fair and are concerned on the impact of future years.

A statement issued after the Gazette contacted the Guild was made in response to our story last week which set out the council’s viewpoint.

The statement from the Guild said: “The London and Home Counties Section of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain (the Guild) presents the Thame Show Fair every September in the streets in Thame; the tenants who attend the fair have been going there for many, many years, their fathers and grandfathers before them.

“This is a long standing tradition which is part of their heritage. A lot of the showmen ther derive a very small income from the fair, but they keep attending to keep the tradition going.

“Over the past five years the rent paid to Thame Town Council has increased by some 25%, which the Guild has had to absorb. It is Guild Rule that a Section may not run a fair knowing it will make a loss. With another increase this year, it would have added to the losses made over the past few years.

“The tenants are unable to withstand another increase to the rent they pay to the Section for operating their equipment at the fair; they have in the past few years been paying high rents for the sake of attending their traditional funfair.

“Moving on from the financial aspects, there have been certain conditions added to the agreement which are unacceptable to the Guild members and which could have an impact on their position at the fair.

“In previous years negotiations between Thame Town Council and the Guild have commenced earlier in the year. This year the Guild received the agreement in August. The Guild advised the council that a committee meeting was scheduled for August 15 whereby the agreement would be considered. At that point the Guild was informed that there was a full council meeting on the same day. The Guild was notified that if they wanted to have an input in the full council meeting they had until 5pm on August 14 to post any input online.

“The Guild fully appreciates that the council has the expense of arranging the operational requirements for the fair, but it is of the view that some of these costs could be reduced at no loss of service or professionalism. The Guild runs fairs up and down the country, in all kinds of environments; it is responsible for the event management, layout, emergency evacuation procedures, security, safety, crowd control etc. The Guild uses accredited, professional contractors who it feels offers the best value and professional service. The Guild did offer some contact details for the contractors it uses at these fairs but the Council were not prepared to change provider, despite the fact that some of the services could have been at lower cost.

“The Guild members who are tenants of the fair are disappointed at not being able to have the fair this year and they are concerned about the impact this could have on future years.

“The Guild is hoping to meet with the council in the very near future to try to negotiate terms and conditions for the Thame October Charter Fair and the future of the Thame September Fair as they wish to continue the working relationship that has been in place for many years.”

>> Thame Town Council ussued a further briefing paper on the issue and this can be read on its website at https://www.thametowncouncil.gov.uk/news/