THE Government has reassured the region's country shows they will not be forced to pay crippling taxes.

Agricultural and country show bosses feared the worst when details emerged of plans to tax large public events.

Show organisers across the North-East and North Yorkshire criticised the plans after being told they would have to pay a minimum of £5,000 to cover health and safety inspections, if they attracted more than 6,000 people.

However, Licensing Minister Richard Caborn gave reassurances to shows that they would be exempt from the charges.

Mr Caborn told the Country Land and Business Association that only large events which fell under the new Licensing Act would need to pay the additional fee.

He said: "Alcohol, music and dancing are some of the activities which fall under the Licensing Act and will be subject to the fees.

"Most outdoor sports, flower shows and most of what goes on at an agricultural show should not.

"We value agricultural events, music festivals and rural shows - they are an integral part of our culture and we want them to thrive."