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Red tape threat to shows

Government red tape could spell the end for some general championship and major open shows as well as country fairs and village fetes, writes Frank Jackson.

The Government is currently formulating new planning controls that could put an end to many well established dog shows as well as village fetes, country fairs and other events essential to a healthy rural tourism and entertainment industry.

At the moment land can be used on a strictly temporary basis without planning permission for up to 14 or 28 days a year. The Government has now announced its intention to allow even temporary use only on the basis of full planning permission.

The Country Landowners Association has expressed deep concern about the Government’s proposals.

‘Events like village fetes and clay pigeon shoots are some of the mainstays of life in the countryside and rural communities. It is crazy to suggest that planning permission should be needed to hold a country fair or fete that might typically consist of a children’s fancy dress parade, a coconut shy, a skittles alley, tombola, a bric-a-brac stall and a few other games and stands,’ said Peter Geldart, East Midlands regional CLA director.

‘Existing temporary use rights underpin many community events and are an extremely valuable asset to farmers and rural business in these difficult times for agriculture. They generate income for charities, business and the wider rural economy.

‘The research report on which the Government has based its proposals is, at best, flimsy and fails to provide any evidence of a real problem. Only 98 out of 388 local authorities nationwide responded to the Government’s research and, of those, only 30 identified temporary use as a problem. There is no need for new regulations: existing controls are sufficient to take account of isolated problems.

‘Removal of these rights will affect numerous temporary uses of land, including traditional summer village fetes, markets, shoots and shows. We all know that, if such temporary uses are brought under planning control, there will be extra costs for application fees, delays in appeals and ultimately possible refusal of consent for some events. The Government should resist the temptation to interfere.’

If the Government decides that all outdoor events must have full planning permission it is entirely likely that ten or more major general championship shows and a great many open shows, including some that own their own sites or operate as part of a larger organisation that owns its own site, will be affected. Some will be forced to relocate or disappear from the show scene.’

If the Kennel Club is aware of the imminent danger it has not yet warned the shows most likely to be affected and has not said that it is doing anything to counter the threat, yet this could be the biggest threat faced by dog shows for a number of years.