TRADE STAND holders at this year’s Crufts, to be held in March at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, are to face new, more restrictive access arrangements which will include payment of a £50 fee for an appropriate, short-term, access pass.
There was also some speculation that disabled parking facilities close to the NEC would be withdrawn, leading to scenes reminiscent of the situation at last December’s LKA show, where many disabled visitors were left stranded in a far car park with inadequate bus facilities to take them up to the NEC.
A spokesperson for the Kennel Club confirmed that new arrangements were in place to allow access for Trade stand holders, whereby they would have to apply in advance for an appropriate access pass, prior to the ‘build up’ on the Wednesday before Day One of the show. The passes are, however, valid for a limited period of time, which may cause problems for trade stand holders attempting to gain access to the hall at the same time. Limited disabled car parking would also be available, but most disabled exhibitors and visitors would still find themselves relegated to the South Car Park, from where most would require transportation to the hall.
The spokesperson said: ‘It is correct that on the Wednesday traders will have to get their two hour pass for £50 which is redeemable. The Disabled parking information is incorrect. There will be disabled parking in the Outside Exhibition Area which is opposite Hall 5, which is on a first come, first served basis. There will also be a disabled shuttle bus from the South Car Park.’
A spokesperson for The NEC Group confirmed the new arrangements: ‘As Europe’s busiest exhibition venue, where shows are being prepared, broken down and opened simultaneously, the safety of our customers, visitors and staff is always our first priority.
‘As a result, we are investing up to £1 million on a range of measures. These include managing the activity in our inner areas, while ensuring only those who need to go into our inner areas for business reasons are able to do so.
‘As discussed with the organisers of Crufts, exhibitors wishing to access the rear of halls for unloading will pay a deposit in common with all other shows, where for £50 they can access the rear of the halls for a period of two hours – fully refundable on exit from the area within the allocated time.
‘As in previous years, The NEC has been working closely with the Kennel Club to finalise the parking facilities that will be available to visitors with disabilities at Crufts 2007. Parking for visitors with disabilities has been allocated adjacent to hall 5, ensuring easy access to the event with additional parking available in south 3 car park. Low loading, wheelchair friendly shuttle buses will be provided for those visitors parking in South 3 car park.’