Council bans funfair over Covid risks

A funfair organiser has quit a site in Birstall following an order from Kirklees Council.

Thursday, 30th July 2020, 12:18 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th July 2020, 12:24 pm
CounShabir Pandor
CounShabir Pandor

Owners of rides began dismantling equipment on land off Leeds Road following intervention by the council citing public health concerns.

But the move has sparked a row over what has been described by a supporter of the showmen as “a legal decision against travellers carrying out a legitimate business”.

Mirfield councillor Martyn Bolt challenged council leader Coun Shabir Pandor over the decision to close the fair, which he said contradicted a statement last month that Kirklees Council would not discriminate against travellers.

He asked: “How does that square with your council issuing threats against travellers carrying out a legitimate business?

“They have done nothing wrong.

“Kirklees have not clarified to those businesses their specific concerns or quoted regulations on how many people they can have at an open air event in much greater space than many others.”

He also challenged the council’s stance – contained in an order to fair organisers the Tucker family – that there was the potential for the event to attract a large number of people “from a community with high levels of infection”.

He said he was not aware of high levels of infection in areas close to the funfair site.

He added: “Crucially, your council and your staff have not said to these people how many people they can get on their event and, as the legislation says, they should work with them to resolve problems, not threaten legal action.”

Coun Pandor referenced the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and said, “We are talking about public health, public safety and staying alive

“Any application that comes to this council to have an event outside, which is not part of the normal business of the council, we will let officers deal with that in an objective, factual and proactive way.

“That involves Public Health England, which is an outside body, the Health & safety Executive, which has a legal duty for safety of the community, and the council and its environmental health officers.”

He warned that localised spikes could lead to bigger outbreaks of Covid-19.

“The primary role of this council is public safety and making sure we don’t get infection rates higher. We are still four times higher than the national average. If we take our eye off the ball we could very easily slip into interventions.

“At the moment we [Kirklees] are an area of concern.”

He called on councillors from all parties to work together and avoid making “political capital” out of the health crisis.

Coun Bolt said council staff had refused to work with funfair operators to set a ceiling on visitors. He called it “a blanket embargo” and that no council permission was needed for an event operating on privately-owned land.