TRAVELLING SHOWMEN &ROAD TRAFFIC LEGISLATIONThe Government has traditionally acknowledged that travelling Showmen represent a special case and that legislation applied to heavy goods vehicles in general would be punitive if applied to a travelling showman. Examples of these statutory concessions are:Vehicle TaxationBone fide travelling showmen were first granted concessionary rates of taxation in 1927 at a time when the use of motorised transport was becoming widespread in the fairground industry. Such concession has been incorporated in successive legislation. The previous Vehicles (Excise) Act 1971 was repealed and replaced by the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994, which modified the concessions.Under s62 of the Act, Showmen’s Vehicles are divided into the following classes;Showman’s Goods Vehicle which:(a)Is a goods vehicle; and(b)Is permanently fitted with a living van or some other special type of body or superstructure forming part of the equipment of the show of the person in whose name the vehicle is registered under the Act.Showman’s Vehicle which is:(a)Registered under the Act in the name of the person following the business of a travelling showman; and(b)Used solely by him for the purposes of his business and for no other purposeUnder Part VII of the Act, the annual rate of vehicle excise duty payable in respect of a Showman’s Vehicle having a weight of less than 44,000kg is equivalent to that of basic goods vehicle rate which was fixed in 2005.Operator LicensingThe Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995 introduced under the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995 exempted Showmen’s Goods Vehicles and any trailers drawn by them from the requirement to hold an Operator’s Licence.The same Regulations exempted from the requirement to hold an Operator’s Licence, vehicles which are fitted with a machine, appliance, apparatus or other contrivance which is a permanent feature provided that the only goods carried on the vehicle are required for use in connection with the machine, appliance, apparatus or contrivance.It is increasingly common for modern roundabouts, termed riding machines, to be constructed as one piece of fixed equipment on a vehicle, using an articulated trailer but at times a rigid lorry or draw bar trailer. The riding machine remains attached to the vehicle and folds off it as a piece of engineering plant. It is possible to argue that as such vehicles are not being used for the carriage of goods, they are similarly exempt from the requirement to be covered by an Operator’s Licence.Examples of vehicles used by Showmen which would be covered by this exemption are:A rigid lorry used for the transport of dismantled equipment and constructed with a special frame or a generator or other works making it a specialist or dedicated Showman’s Vehicle;A draw bar trailer used for the transport of dismantled equipment and again constructed with a special frame as a generator or other works making it a specialist or dedicated Showman’s Vehicle;A tractor unit used to draw an articulated trailer which itself is defined as a haulage vehicle not carrying loose goods but towing a draw bar trailer;A caravan based on a twin axle, draw bar or articulated chassis.A living van being either a motorised vehicle or a trailer which is constructed as to be part living accommodation and part for the transportation of equipment.The exemptions are interpreted quite narrowly and for example, where a showman hired out a tent and electrical generators to be used other than at a fair, it was held that such use was not wholly for the business of a travelling showman and the particular showman was convicted of using a vehicle without an Operator’s Licence. Similarly, a company which specialised in providing portable toilets for travelling showmen was held not to be itself a travelling showman. In that case the vehicle operator was convicted of using a vehicle without an Operator’s Licence and also for under payment of Vehicle Excise Duty.TachographsAs a consequence of EU Regulations, Showmen’s Vehicles are exempt from the installation and use of tachograph equipment. Article 4 of the Regulation exempts the same vehicles from tacographs installation as are exempt from compliance with the Drivers’ Hours Regulations. This Regulation exempts “Specialised vehicles transporting circus and funfair equipment”. Plating and Testing of Showman’s VehiclesSchedule 2 of the Goods Vehicles (Plating and Testing) Regulations 1988 list the categories of vehicles which are not subject to plating and testing.Although neither “Showman’s Goods Vehicles” nor “Showman’s Vehicles” are included in the list of exemptions, Engineering plant which is moveable plant or equipment being a motor vehicle or a trailer (not constructed primarily to carry a load) specially designed and constructed for special purposes of engineering operation is exempt.Showmen’s vehicles are generally regarded by the Enforcement Agencies as falling within the engineering plant definition and it is generally accepted that they are not subject to the plating and testing Regulations. In the past the Department of Transport has confirmed that it considers all vehicles which carry only fixed equipment or loose items which relate only to that fixed equipment are not goods vehicles and therefore exempt from the plating and testing Regulations. Although in the past representations have been made to specifically exclude “Showman’s Goods Vehicles” and Showman’s Vehicles”, the Regulations have not been amended. Although the Enforcement Agencies appear to accept the definition of “engineering plant” is carried into the Regulations by adopting the definition found in the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, which are somewhat more restrictive than the more generalised wording used in the plating and testing Regulations.Where vehicles have been extensively modified for the carriage of fair/showground equipment it should not be difficult to establish the exemption. However, where very little modification has been made to a vehicle which started its life as a standard goods vehicle, then a Court may require considerable argument to convince it that the vehicle is exempt.It should be noted however that even where the vehicles are exempt from the plating and testing Regulations, vehicles used by showmen are still subject to the road worthiness requirements of the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 and the Road Traffic Act 1988 and as such are still subject to road side checks by the Police and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA).