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Orkney councillors reject plans for a summer funfair in Kirkwall after applicant fails to turn up for a meeting

The fair would have been in Bignold Park in Kirkwall.
The fair would have been in Bignold Park in Kirkwall.

Orkney councillors rejected a licence application for a funfair – because the applicant didn’t fill out his paperwork properly or turn up for a meeting.

The funfair would have been held in the middle of Kirkwall throughout July if it was approved.

Many of the councillors sitting on Orkney Islands Council’s licensing committee said they would have been happy to have seen a funfair take place in Bignold Park.

But they felt they could not approve the application for a temporary entertainment licence from Thomas Vance Smith, of Glasgow. 

Mr Smith has brought funfairs to Orkney at this time of year in the past, for the Dounby and county agricultural shows – which have both been cancelled this summer. 

The funfair would have seen seven rides and four side-stalls set up on the hardstanding near the gates at the south-west side of the park.

The fair would have opened today and tomorrow and then run on each Saturday, Sunday and Monday up to August 1. 

Mr Smith was applying for up to 500 people being admitted to the fair at any one time.  

However, he did not appear at the online committee meeting to answer questions on Thursday morning.

‘The younger generation have been robbed’

Committee chairman Duncan Tullock said attempts had been made to contact the applicant, and the council had made one last effort to get in touch half-an-hour before the meeting. 

The police also had attempted to make contact with the applicant, so they could make their own observations on the application issues, but had received no reply. 

Concerns over noise, traffic management, the lack of a Covid safety assessment, insurance and safety certification were all mentioned in the council’s assessment.

Orkney Islands Council headquarters. Picture by Sandy McCook

Proposing that the committee reject the application, Mr Tullock said: “The younger generation have been robbed of two summers of probably the most character-building time of their lives – time that they’re not going to get back.  

“If we can put a little bit of normality into their lives it would be good, but Mr Smith has not helped his application by not appearing here today.”

Several other councillors also spoke about their support for the funfair, adding that they couldn’t support the application. 

Councillor Sandy Cowie said: “I would have been very, very happy to see the fair come here if it were properly regulated but the applicant has had more than a fair chance to make responses.

“He’s failed to do so and I’m very keen that this should not be seen publicly as Orkney Islands Council being a killjoy.”

‘Covid is to blame here’

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporter Service a few hours after the committee meeting, Mr Smith denied that he had been uncommunicative with the police and the council, saying he had been communicating by email. 

He also said he hadn’t received an invite to the meeting held earlier that day. 

Mr Smith said: “Covid is to blame here. It’s been an absolute nightmare. It was not just paperwork work that was the problem.  

“I have been trying to get the licence since April.

“I told the council that it would cost thousands of pounds to test and insure equipment as none of it has been done due to Covid.

“Everyone was looking forward and hoping for a better outcome but we’ve have been out of business for the last 18 months and I can’t risk losing out on over £7,000.”

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