Showmen's anger as Whit Fair dispute spins round and round

Project update on the fight by fairground families to keep Preston's traditional Whit Fair in the city centre.

Wednesday, 17th January 2018, 4:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th January 2018, 4:30 pm
Preston Whit Fair on the Flag Market
Preston Whit Fair on the Flag Market

What is the project?

A campaign to keep Preston’s historic Whitsuntide Fair in the city centre in the face of moves by the council to shift it out of town to Moor Park in Deepdale.

What is happening?

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Nothing. Fairground families claim they have been trying for months, without success, to make progress with Preston City Council in their fight to continue a tradition which dates back centuries.

What are the issues?

The council is adamant the Flag Market and Markets Quarter are no longer the right location for a four-day fairground over the Whit Bank Holiday weekend, even though the event has traditionally attracted thousands into the city centre - welcome extra trade for shops, bars and restaurants. They cite damage done to the paving stones and also the reduced amount of space for stalls and rides now the two outdoor market canopies house the new indoor market hall and a cluster of container businesses. The showmen point to a charter which allows them to hold the fair in its historic location and strongly deny their rides have caused damage to flagstones.

What are the alternatives?

Three other funfairs throughout the year are held on the edge of Moor Park, opposite Preston North End’s Deepdale Stadium and the city council believes that is one of the alternative sites where the Whit Fair could be staged this year. But the showmen are refusing to move out of town saying they have a historic right to stay put.

What’s been said?

“We won’t be going to Moor Park, we’re staying put in the city centre. We have rights because the fair has a charter,” John Silcock, a committee member of Showman’s Guild.

Adrian Phillips, director for environment at Preston City Council said: “While our preference for hosting the Whitsuntide Festival at Moor Park remains, the council is currently looking into the implications of the Showman’s Guild’s counter proposals for hosting it within the city centre.”