PENRITH and the Border MP Rory Stewart is pressing the Ministry of Defence to temporarily release land at the Warcop Army training camp as a base for gypsies and travellers heading to Appleby Horse Fair.

Mr Stewart has met three times with Philip Dunne, the Minister for Defence Equipment, to enlist his support and says the first meetings have been ‘surprisingly productive’.

“The Minister seems amenable and open to discussing a site, we are now looking in detail at maps," said Mr Stewart.

He said a ‘breakthrough’ would significantly reduce the burden of scattered campers in and around Appleby, Brough and Kirkby Stephen in the weeks leading up to the fair – though there was some way to go before a definite decision was reached.

“I am enormously pleased that the Minister is so open to our suggestions, which are based on sound local knowledge of the land and local experience of which sites would work best and could conceivably be temporarily leased as camping land for travellers,” said Mr Stewart.

“It's a win-win situation: it would take pressure off our local villages and roads; is ideally placed for access to the camp; would benefit the Ministry of Defence in terms of local goodwill; and will make the work of the Multi-Agency Group much easier, allowing them to focus on the many other issues that the fair inevitably brings.”