A SURVEY has indicated considerable support for the idea of charging those attending Appleby Horse Fair.

According to the online survey organised by Cumbria County Council Conservative Group leader James Airey, 63 per cent of the 372 who responded were in favour of a charge, the proceeds of which would offset the annual cost of staging the event.

“Around two thirds of people said they would support a charge and suggested various ways they thought this could be administered including a fee for all fairgoers, a permit system for caravans or a licensing charge for the event," said Cllr Airey.

The Westmorland Gazette of October 25 reported that Cllr Airey had suggested the charge after expressing concern over the annual cost of staging the event to local agencies, which last year totalled £213,000 including £81,000 in police costs alone.

And he said he was encouraged by the results of the subsequent survey, which he said he was moved to set up after he received regular complaints from residents over the cost of managing the event.

“The Horse Fair is part of our county’s cultural heritage and the goal of this survey was to see if there was support for the idea of the event contributing directly to the cost it places on local public services each year," said Cllr Airey.

“People who were not supportive of a charge felt it would be too difficult to administer or may put people off attending. However, what came across strongly was the view that most people want to see the cost of the Fair being met by fairgoers and organisers in the future.”

He said he had already set up a series of meetings with the agencies involved and had also succeeded in arranging a meeting with representatives of the Traveller Movement who had indicated they were prepared to discuss the issue.

"It will be a long process but I've been encouraged by the response so far as we try to move things forward," said Cllr Airey.