Street Closure

Frequency Annual
Duration days
Seasonal Yes
Fixture Temporary
Rate of Change annually
Physical Scale Small
Experiential Scale Small
Geographical Scale Local

Street closures are used to shut off areas of the town centre to traffic for the duration of a fair.

Street closures are usually administered by the Local Authority and/or the Regional Authority (County Council, usually their Highways Department) using powers set out in the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984: Sections 14 & 16A (Prohibition or restriction on roads in connection with certain events) and/or the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 (Section 21). Both of these instruments are brought to bear simultaneously in setting up the (moveable) boundaries and road-closures, two different authorities drawing on powers set out in two different Acts to organize the ‘same’ territory and event.

Closures are announced in advertisements in the local press and notices placed around the town, as well as other Council noticeboards and circulars. Around two weeks before the fair, temporary signs go up in the town. Street closures are formed using temporary barriers and signage. They are easily moved to allow showmen to deliver rides and attractions, catering vans and other services, and to allow access for emergency service vehicles. The position of street closures can move during the fair.

As a consequence of street closures, bus services and taxi ranks move to temporary positions outside the cordon.

To say the same thing using different terminology, aspects of this street closure process operate at national, regional, and (very) local scales, they have material manifestation (signs, barriers), they have material consequences and an impact on vehicular and pedestrian traffic flow, and they have a prior ‘material’ or mediated presence (announcements in local papers, council websites, laminated notices around the town). They have ambiguous legislative powers behind them (the various Acts just mentioned) enacted by different official bodies more or less simultaneously; and they are unstable (the boundaries move back and forth during the fair, and the full extent of permitted road closures are not often taken up, but are there to provide the Fair Superintendent with some room for contingencies.)

Just as typical map shows the town as a clearly bounded totality, so it is possible to locate an easily perceptible edge or boundary of the fair in any of the several road closures that emerge around town during the event. This kind of clear definition is deceptive, yet helps maintain the kinds of binary thinking that keeps town and fair as discrete, separate entities. (This applies not only to physical boundaries, but to conceptions of behaviour as well. Describing the opening of the fair in 1955, the World's Fair reporter noted that: ‘On the stroke of twelve the Mayor declared the fair open and for three hectic days Loughborough lost its customary dignified character as the centre of the famous Quorn Hunt and gave itself up to the spirit of carnival.’ Examples that reinforce this distinction between dignity and carnival are easy to find when the Fair comes to town, from the chips and candyfloss stalls, to the loud and competing music, to the wasteful, non-productive rides themselves, all of which are installed within the polite architectural surroundings of this market town and help to maintain a prosaic binary categorisation that positions the Fair as transgressive, profligate and unhealthy, in contrast to the Town which is good, healthy and so on.)

As with many fairs, the centre of Loughborough is closed to traffic for the duration of the event.

Street closures are implemented by both the local and regional councils, with reference to separate pieces of legislation. The street closures themselves shift during the build up and the fair itself.