William Eichler 23 August 2017

Councils could be allowed to replace ‘poorly performing’ funfairs, Gov says

The main trade body for funfairs has agreed to change its rules in response to the Government’s claim that they ‘break competition law’.

Last December, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) alleged the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain were breaking competition law by limiting competition at fairs run by the Guild, and between existing Guild fairs and potential rival fairs.

In response, the Guild stated at the time they did not believe their rules had breached competition law.

They emphasised that their rules had been looked at a decade earlier by the Office of Fair Trading and no breach had been found.

The Guild has now said it is willing to make a number of changes to its rules through legally binding commitments.

These changes — which the CMA is consulting on — include a measure that will allow landowners (often councils) to change or improve a fair by replacing poorly performing fair organisers and amusement operators.

They have also offered to open up access to Guild-run fairs for non-member showmen and reduce restrictions on rival fairs opening close to Guild fairs.

‘We welcome the Guild’s offer to make changes to its rules and are now consulting on whether others agree that they meet our competition concerns,’ said Ann Pope, CMA senior director – antitrust.

‘We believe that the current restrictions hinder change and innovation in funfairs.

‘The new rules will enable more competition in travelling fairs potentially giving the millions of fairgoers who attend them every year access to new rides and to different fairs in their local area.’

A statement from the Guild said: 'The CMA is currently undertaking a consultation on the proposed rule changes which it is hoped will confirm that the rule changes will satisfy the requirements of Competition Law; then, as a democratic organisation, the Guild will put the rule changes to its membership at its annual meeting in January 2018 for approval, which the Guild's leaders hope will be achieved.'

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