BINGLEY BACK FROM THE BRINK?
THE POPULAR Bingley cat show looks set to be saved after a passionate defence on its behalf at last month’s Council meeting.
By NICK MAYS, News & Features Editor
As reported in October last year, the GCCF were set to ‘pull the plug’ on licensing Bingley and the one other remaining exemption cat show, the City of Swansea show, on ‘health and safety’ grounds, and stated that they would not renew the show’s licenses for 2008.
Historically, the Bingley cat show has been staged without incident for well over 50 years as part of the Bingley Show – the oldest one-day agricultural show in the UK.
No one who has exhibited at this proudest of Yorkshire venues in the past or in recent years expects any frills at the show. There are proper cat pens, and the usual rules relating to show white apply, but the show is staged in a marquee, which is open to the public for most of the day and sometimes, as one would expect with any outdoor show held in the summer, it sometimes rains.
But this doesn’t bother regular Bingley show-goers – or new ones who come along having been recommended by word of mouth. It’s always a happy atmosphere and everyone can expect to find at least one unique ‘special’ in his or her cat’s pen – a tradition started many years ago by Enid.
Meanwhile, the City of Swansea Exemption Show has been staged for the past 13 years by Jan Beaumont. The cat section, like Bingley, is staged as an Exemption event held under canvas as part of the huge Swansea Show, held on the sea-facing Singleton Park in Swansea. Apart from the 2006 show being cancelled, due to Jan being ill, the show has been eagerly anticipated by cat fanciers and always attracts a decent entry, averaging 40 to 50 cats.
However, both Chris and Jan were taken aback by the news last autumn that the GCCF’s Executive Committee had decided not to renew the show’s licences beyond 2007 and had only granted the 2007 licences on the basis that the Bingley and Swansea Shows had most likely incorporated plans to stage cat sections next year.
The GCCF’s official statement on the matter was sent to OUR CATS in late September and said:
“As a consequence of the rule amendments and re-ordering which were approved at the June Council meeting, Section 2, Rule 3a reads:
“The venue for a show must have suitable access for exhibitors, including disabled access, and must be sufficiently secure to prevent the escape/entrance of any cat.”
This rule was introduced to reflect current thinking about access, safety and welfare.
When show licence applications were considered at the September Executive Committee meeting, the holding of shows in marquees was questioned; it was decided that we could not consider marquees to be safe venues, since they offered a far greater chance of escape if a cat got loose, compared to most permanent buildings.
EC members who had been to the show stated that, although there was no question that the show was well run, they felt that if a cat escaped from someone’s hands it could escape from the marquee. Although the majority of cats handle easily at shows, there is no guarantee that a cat which is shown for the first time will do so and even the most experienced show cat can be frightened by a loud noise. As the authority requested to license this cat show, the Executive Committee felt that it had to consider the welfare of cats which might escape under these circumstances.
As it was likely that arrangements for the 2007 show were already under way, possibly with contracts signed, it was agreed that if this was the case, the licence would be granted for the 2007 show, but notice would be given that it would be the last one unless the show could be held in a safe venue.”
Bingley Show Manager, Chris Bamford, with her grand-daughter at last year’s Bingley Show.
It seems that the ruling was made on the basis of “What if?”, which is often the primary basis for many ‘health and safety’ directives nowadays. It seemed to have escaped some of the Executive’s notice that the Bingley and Swansea Shows have already been scrutinised by their organisers for suitable access, and that in all the years each show has been staged, a cat has never escaped.
The matter seemed irrevocable, and Governing Council set hard in their decision.
However, an appeal was raised against this decision by the Bingley Cat Club Show Committee, buoyed up by scores of messages of support from cat fanciers across the UK in defence of Bingley. The Yorkshire County Cat Club had requested that their own proposal, in the form of a statement from the Bingley Cat Club Show Committee, was made an agenda item at Council on February 15th.
At the meeting the statement was read out by a Yorkshire County Cat Club delegate. It is reported by some delegates in attendance that the support for Bingley was overwhelming.
The YCCC outlined a comprehensive list of safety measures to the Council, which OUR CATS is happy to reproduce in this issue.
Bingley Cat Show: Safety Measures
Executive Committee has requested that the Bingley Cat Show Committee provides its intentions regarding detailed safety proposals for the show, which is held in an agricultural show marquee, before any reconsideration can be given to the aforementioned show’s licence beyond 2007.
The Committee’s intentions are fourfold in relation to enhanced safety measures:
1. Judges’ trolleys:
• The Bingley Cat Show Committee is in the process of acquiring lightweight judges’ trolleys to
the standard and dimensions of those used at GCCF shows.
• The acquisition of such trolleys will enable judging to take place immediately before a cat’s pen, thus ensuring that the very slight risk of escape is substantially reduced and no greater than that at any GCCF show held in a permanent structure.
2. Exit and entrance to Cat Show marquee:
• To prevent the very slight risk of egress from the marquee by cat ‘escapees’ or access to the tent by cats or other animals that just happen to be passing by:
• The marquee doors will be closed during judging.
• Exhibitors will be barred from the marquee during judging.
• During the judging period, any judge, steward, worker or stallholder who wishes to avail themselves of the nearby ‘facilities’ will be let out of the marquee by a Committee member who will ‘man’ the marquee door to let that person back into the marquee.
• The Committee has purchased secure netting (bird netting) that will be attached to a frame across the door to allow the air to flow on a hot day. This ensures that the temperature is comfortable for cats and humans alike, but the same safety measures apply with regard to the manned entrance and exit.
• Please note that the doors to the marquee are wide enough to allow disabled access and exit.
3. Securing the bottom of the marquee:
• To further minimise the very slight risk of cats escaping or other cats/animals entering the marquee, the bottom of the marquee will be checked to ensure that the marquee is pegged-out solidly at a distance of 18 inches or less, thus making it virtually impossible to enter or exit the marquee by all but the most determined of burrowing creatures.
4. Informing the exhibitor:
• The show schedule and catalogue will advise exhibitors of the enhanced safety requirements.
• The schedule and catalogue will carry a strong recommendation that cats are not removed from their pens, unless it is absolutely necessary.
• A reminder, by way of a ‘flyer’, will be placed in each cat’s pen and a verbal reminder will also be given before judging commences.
Please note that the Airedale Agricultural Society, the body that runs the one day Agricultural Show of which the Bingley Cat Show is part, does have an appointed Health and Safety Officer.
The Bingley Cat Show Committee trusts that its intentions regarding enhanced safety measures for the Bingley Cat Show meet with approval.
Bingley Cat Show Committee
7th February 2007
A similar statement was lodged on behalf of the City of Swansea Show, whilst the YCCC delegate made it clear that they supported Swansea’s own appeal. The matter is now to be considered by the GCCF Executive Committee where a final decision is to be made, but they are likely to take on board the overwhelming support expressed via the Council.
It is hoped that the future of both the Bingley and City of Swansea shows might be more optimistic. OUR CATS will continue to monitor the situation and report on developments.