Competition Authority rules on fun fair concerns

Proposals aim to improve competition and transparency

Rule changes offered by the UK’s largest fun fair trade body to address competition concerns have been accepted by the Competition and Markets Authority.

The proposals include opening up Guild-run fairs for non-member showmen and reducing restrictions on rival fairs opening close to Guild fairs. They also include practical steps to improve transparency, including publishing the Guild rules online and ensuring objective criteria for membership are explicitly set out.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation has therefore been closed, pending the result of a vote of Guild members to confirm the changes.

The changes aim to:

  • Give fairgoers more choice and variety in their local area
  • Improve the quality of rides and fairgoers’ all round experience
  • Give local councils more power to decide who runs fairs in their area. This will allow them to change the make up of and refresh under-performing fairs
  • Help members and non-members of the Guild work together more easily, providing more choice and fresh attractions to fairgoers

Ann Pope, CMA senior director of Antitrust, said: “The rule changes offered by the Showmen’s Guild will provide the opportunity for millions of UK fairgoers to have more choice in the range of fairs coming to their local area, as well as give showmen the chance to expand their businesses and improve their fairs.

“These rule changes are not about favouring larger fairground businesses over smaller ones or depriving any showmen of their livelihood. Instead, the aim is to make the all round experience even better for the benefit of fairgoers and showmen alike.

“We are pleased the Guild has responded positively to the competition concerns our investigation raised by offering changes to address them.  The members now have the chance to vote in favour of these rule changes to address our competition concerns and draw a line under the CMA’s investigation.”

The changes have been suggested in response to the CMA’s allegation in December 2016 that the Guild’s current rules broke the law by limiting competition at fairs run by the Guild and between existing Guild fairs and rival fairs.

Following a public consultation the CMA considered that the commitments offered by the Guild address its competition concerns and has today formally accepted them.

Guild members will vote in January 2018 on whether to accept the proposed changes. If the rule changes are not accepted, the CMA could re-open the investigation.

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