A private company has stepped in to marshall traffic at this year’s Fair after Police Scotland revealed their officers won’t be doing it.
The national police force wrote to Falkirk Council last month advising the local authority it was not responsible for planned road closures forcing the council into working on creating a new policy for safety at community events.
For the next six months, the council will also waive the £725 fee needed for a Temporary Traffic Restriction Order (TTRO) for all community events, but groups will be required to have people in place to manage the traffic.
The move has raised concerns that the cost of traffic management will cause local groups to cancel events as they couldn’t afford to do it.
This year’s Bo’ness Children’s Fair was never in jeopardy, but following a request from a member of the Fair’s committee, employees of the firm Amey – which maintains roads throughout Scotland – have pledged to take on the marshalling responsibility.
This will save the organisers thousands of pounds.
Thanking them for their support, committee chairman Jim Stewart said: “We have been told police will be in attendance, but not to do the traffic.
“This is an amazing gesture by Amey and we would like to thank them so much for this.”
“They are going to fit all the barriers, close off the required roads as per timing and provide vehicles to follow the procession to open the roads again. This would have cost us about £3000, maybe even more, so it’s just fantastic.”
Police Scotland say controlling traffic at local events was done on “goodwill” and on an “informal basis” in the past, adding it had no “desire to jeopardise the future of community events”.
A spokesperson for Amey said: “Employees from Amey’s Burghmuir depot in Linlithgow are proud to play a part in helping this community event run safely and smoothly by assisting with parking, and directing traffic on the day.
“We are certain this year’s Children’s Fair will continue to inspire and delight generations of local children and we wish the organisers every success.”
Falkirk Council is now in the process of drawing up a policy to deal with the issue for other events. Council Leader Councillor Craig Martin said: “Police Scotland is pulling out of a lot of things it used to be involved in. They are obviously looking at everything theu do with their operational staff.”
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “In order to facilitate a pre-planned event that impacts on traffic management, Police Scotland recommends that organisers work with the local roads authority to put the necessary Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders (TTROs) and any appropriate traffic management plans in place.
“If Temporary Traffic Restriction Orders are required for pre-planned events, these are administered and charged by the local authority.”
Mr Stewart also revealed this week that ticket prices for the grandstand have been increased from £6 to £10 to cover extra costs this year.
He added: “We make a substantial loss charging £6 and will still make a loss at £10 so we have to find ways to generate more income I’m afraid.”
He also confirmed that the dress rehearsal for the crowning ceremony will go ahead as planned on Thursday, June 23, at Glebe Park despite the EU Referendum taking place the same day.