Today I took part in a Westminster Hall Debate on the future of fairs and Showgrounds. During the COVID-19 pandemic the Showpeople community have faced disproportionate hardship as a result of the cancelling and postponing of many fairs, alongside a lack of specific Government financial support.
As part of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Fairs and Showgrounds, I have had the pleasure of learning about the Show people community. It has been incredibly insightful discussing with Showpeople about their lives and their unique culture. In my discussions I have learnt about the traditions and customs of Show people, the long lineages within their community – with many families having worked the same fairs for generations – and how Show people identify as their own unique cultural group.
Within the debate today it was hugely important for me to portray how difficult this year has been for the Showpeople community and to outline to the UK Government how the cancelling of fairs has impacted the businesses and livelihoods for countless Showpeople.
Since the outset of the pandemic Showpeople have been repeatedly excluded from the Governments financial support packages, mainly due to the fact that they operate without a static business or shopfront.
In addition, many Showpeople have highlighted the inconsistencies in how local authorities have treated fairs and shows during the pandemic. With some local authorities enacting strict bans and others being more lenient and allowing some fairs to go ahead.
In the debate I called on the UK Government to step up to support this community. I asked the Government to provide a sector specific financial support package for Showpeople, to grant a 100% relief on licenses and to outline clear guidance for future fairs. I hope that today the UK Government expresses a commitment to support this community and will agree to the suggestions made by myself and the other members speaking in the debate.
I hope that 2021 will be brighter for all of us, including for Show People, who will hopefully be back putting on fairs for us all, no longer facing the hardship that this year has brought.
Watch my full speech during the debate below: