Town councillors' support for Mop Fairs in the High Street is absolute
When the Marlborough High Street Retailers Association's request to town councillors to provide more details about the Charter allowing fairs in the town and to consider - once again - moving the Mop Fairs from the High Street to the Common, Councillor Peggy Dow's response was simple: "No thanks - we've had enough."
She told her fellow councillors at the full meeting of the Town Council on Monday (September 5): "The Mop fairs are for the people of Marlborough and the people of Marlborough want them in the High Street."
There was not much support for attempts to move the time the High Street closes on the two Fridays later than twelve noon and there was near unanimous support for the Fairs remaining in the High Street.
Councillor Justin Cook did explain how much the retailers were having to pay in rent and rates and challenged the argument that the Western Section of the Showmen's Guild needed so much time for set-up and safety checks.
But Councillor Mervyn Hall explained that the Showmen need two hours to clear the High Street of street furniture and the odd left over car, and three thirty minute slots for the trucks to drive into the High Street in an orderly manner. They start setting up the rides at 3.30pm which only just gives them enough time before dark to have the necessary safety checks.
There was the usual discussion about charters and Acts of Parliament with Councillor Nick Fogg again stating that it would require an Act of Parliament to move the Mops to the Common. (You can read the minutes of Councillor Fogg's 2015 address to council here.)
Wiltshire Council, which inherited the running of the Fairs from Kennet Council who inherited them from...etc etc, have now handed over their responsibilities for the Fairs to the Western Section of the Showmen's Guild.
When the Town Council's Planning Commit a week earlier, they passed a resolution that there was no objection to the road closure application for the two Mops "...but a later set-up time for the Mop Fairs would be welcome."
Last year the Showmen's Guild agreed to a 3.00pm start to the closure of the High Street, but Wiltshire Council refused to pay the overtime costs that would have incurred. The 3.00pm closure would, it was argued at the time, at least allow lunchtime trade to continue along the High Street.
The Town Council is agreeing a schedule of costs with the Guild mainly for use of the Common for parking trucks and caravans. The Guild have agreed to hold a 'wash-up' or review meeting soon after this year's Mops to see whether any changes to the running of the Fairs should be made.