Travelling Circuses lobby No 10
5 Jul 2004
Sir George with two Ringmasters in Whitehall
Sir George with two Ringmasters in Whitehall
Click for a full size picture
Who are the clowns? MP's hand in the petition at No 10
Who are the clowns? MP's hand in the petition at No 10
Click for a full size picture
Travelling circuses from all over England lobbied their MP's and No 10 in protest at the recent Licensing Act.

"Travelling circuses were told by the Home Office that this Bill would not affect them. But when responsibility for the Bill transferred from the Home Office to the Department of Culture Media and Sport, this commitment was forgotten. They now find themselves caught up in a bureaucratic regime designed for static entertainment - like opera houses - rather than for mobile entertainment. Most of them will not be able to survive."

Under the Act - as it now is - they will have to apply for an expensive licence for each site they visit; and if, because of circumstances beyond their control, they have to move to another site at short notice, they won't have time to apply for a new licence.

Along with Peter Luff and Julie Kirkbride, Sir George handed in a petition to No 10, asking the Government to think again.

This is what the petition said


We are the people of the circus. We are afraid our way of life is about to be taken away from us because of the Government's new Licensing laws. And that Britain will forever lose a great form of family entertainment.

We perform as acrobats, jugglers, trapeze artists, clowns, ringmasters, and in other ways, and some of us still work with animals. All of us also work hard in many other ways to make sure the many demands of circus life are met. The circus isn't just our job -it's our way of life.

Right now, circuses are strictly inspected at each site they play, which means high standards of public and staff safety are guaranteed. But, when Licensing is imposed next year, the circuses we work with will have to apply weeks in advance, and also pay a high fee, to get a separate License for every site they use. For some shows, that's 70 Licenses a year.

A theatre only needs one License each year. Why should circuses be any different? Most circuses will be forced to close down, because the new system is unworkable. The Government has told us over and over that they refuse to change their new Law, which was made without consulting the circus people. The Circus was invented in England, but we're afraid that this year could be the last for our important tradition of popular culture.

We and our audiences have signed a Petition, and we shall hand it in at 10 Downing St at

10.30am on Monday 5th July

Most of us will be working, but some circus performers have made special arrangements to be there to represent all of us and hand in the Petition, because it's so important.

Giffords Circus is based in Sir George's North West Hant constituency
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