Wiltshire Council kill later start to Mop Fair road closures
For some years Marlborough traders have been campaigning for the start of the road closures for October's two Mop Fairs to be delayed by three hours. This they say would encourage their customers to shop - as they usually do - on the Friday afternoons - and so reduce their losses during the two weekends.
The road closures have to be in place before the Showmen's Guild bring their trucks and trailers into the High Street and begin erecting their rides and booths.
The Showman's Guild and the fire service have agreed to work later into Friday evening to allow for the later road closure. But Wiltshire Council will not pay the extra overtime for their staff involved in removing the car parking ticket machines and in safety work.
The extra cost will be £2,000 to cover both Fridays - a sum that is said to be beyond the money the Showman's Guild pays to Wiltshire Council to hold the Mop Fairs in the High Street.
The town's councillors - who are only consultees in this as highway issues are solely matters for the unitary authority - have agreed to ask Wiltshire Council to re-consider their decision in the light of the break in the highway maintenance contract with Balfour Beatty Living Places and the consequent possibility of lower overtime costs.
Councillor Dow told the full council meeting (September 7): "The closures have proved they are successful, let's leave it alone please." And Councillor Fogg said: "It's out of our hands."
But Councillor Cook shared the 'exasperation' of those affected: "This is another unilateral decision by Wiltshire Council. It's unbelievable that the Wiltshire Council cabinet are forcing things on us like this."
Councillors praised the Showman's Guild for showing flexibility to resolve this long-running issue.