ABUSIVE behaviour, blocked roads and fields being used as toilets were among the ‘serious concerns’ raised at a public meeting about the Appleby Horse Fair.
Eden District Council’s chief executive Robin Hooper chaired the meeting where members of the public and representatives of the Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (MASCG) which supports the fair fed back their thoughts on the June event.
Mr Hooper said: “There was a serious concern outside Appleby that they (gypsies and travellers) are coming to the fair earlier than the start, going to the toilet in the fields, blocking access and being rude and abusive to residents.”
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He added that there was a general feeling that there had been improvements in Appleby itself, with the management of gypsies and travellers and a reduction of anti-social behaviour during the time of the fair.
Representatives from neighbouring parishes told the meeting that the fair started at the allotted time as visitors to the annual gathering were arriving early. Enid Hastings, chair of Casterton Parish Council, said the main problems for her parish was the gypsies and travellers using the loop road at Devil’s Bridge, Kirkby Lonsdale, before and after the annual fair and using the grass verges to park up.
She said: “The whole of the loop road was filled and walkers and families park their cars there, so there was nowhere to park for visitors.
“The grass verges are also simply for bow tops but motorised vehicles and lorries are parked there and we feel they should be moved on.”
Allan Muirhead, chairman of Kirkby Lonsdale’s Town Council, said there had been a ‘lack of consistency’ with what happens with policing.
“There seems to be one rule for the travellers and another for the locals and we’re concerned with the softly, softly approach,” said Coun Muirhead.
Mr Hooper added: “We recognise the disruption that the fair causes across the county and have praised the communities for their tolerance in the period leading up to, during and after the fair.
“The MASCG will continue to work closely with communities, in an effort to maintain and develop transit sites, which in turn will help to reduce the impact on the road infrastructure.”