East Runton funfair will have to move out of East Runton...

Business owners and residents handing over the petition to keep the East Runton Funfair in its usual

Business owners and residents handing over the petition to keep the East Runton Funfair in its usual field to North Norfolk District Council member Sarah Butikofer (second from left at the front), Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of upset villagers, tourists and business owners have signed a petition calling for a long-established funfair to return to its usual time and place in a seaside village.

The East Runton funfair, run by L Gray and Sons, members of the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain, has been held on the same field off the A148 coast road for 38 years.

It is usually held around the same time as the nearby Cromer Carnival, which features a funfair run by showmen's guild members.

But the East Runton funfair cannot open on those dates this year, or in the future, because of a guild ruling, according to the organisers. Cromer Carnival committee has not been involved.

A petition launched by Emma Spagnola, 41, from Cromer, to keep East Runton funfair on its traditional field has attracted 800 signatures.

Mrs Spagnola, who has spent most of her life in East Runton, said: 'I have had strangers saying their children are in tears about the fair. People have said the fair is part of their Cromer Carnival week. It is such a shame that something that has been in the village for so long is being taken away.' Stephen Bacon, from East Runton Stores, said: 'Local residents and business people have expressed their dismay that local and visiting children will be denied a family friendly and safe environment to play in this summer.'

The East Runton fair, featuring 99p rides, was due to start today and end on August 26.

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Instead it is moving further up the coast road to the Cookie's car boot site, Beeston Regis, from August 12-August 19, before moving to its traditional field from August 22-August 28.

Larry Gray, 49, from L Gray and Sons, said the permanent change had come about because of a guild rule that no funfair could operate less than six weeks before carnival week, or within two miles of the carnival site.

Cromer Carnival, in its 46th year, runs from August 15-21 and the traditional East Runton funfair field is 500-600 yards from the Runton Road carnival field.

Mr Gray said the change was also due to a paperwork issue.

He said: 'It is something that is beyond our control. I feel heartbroken. East Runton is our second home. It is a good community thing that has been upset by silly things.'

He added showmen's guild members from the East Runton and Cromer funfairs always worked 'happily together'.

Mr Gray said: 'The situation is part of our (guild) rules. There is nothing personal between us and the showmen. We don't want to interfere with local events.'

The News contacted the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain but it did not want to comment.

North Norfolk District Council member Sarah Butikofer, who received the village petition and represents East Runton, said: 'East Runton fair is at the heart of our community. It provides a crucial boost for local businesses every summer.' This year's funfair runs from 6pm-9.30pm and includes free parking and admission.