POLICING of this year's Appleby Horse Fair has been very successful, but the event needs to pay its way in the future, Westmorland Conservatives have said.

Cllr James Airey met Cumbria’s PCC Peter McCall and former Sedbergh and Kirkby Lonsdale councillor Sheila Capstick in the immediate aftermath of last year’s event to discuss ways to prevent the annual gathering being blighted again by troublemakers.

In response, this year’s Horse Fair saw the appointment of a chief officer to oversee all policing of the event, and a dedicated option for people calling to report non-emergency police issues relating to the Fair and a greater use of CCTV.

And Cllr Airey, the Conservative Group leader on Cumbria County Council, said the move had proved well worthwhile.

“This year’s event has been relatively hassle-free and praise for that must go to the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner who listened following last year’s event and took practical steps to make positive changes this year," he said.

“Alongside the Police and Crime Commissioner, thanks for the improvements we have seen this year must go to Kirkby Stephen’s county councillor Phil Dew, and Sedbergh and Kirkby Lonsdale’s former district councillor Sheila Capstick who were both tenacious in the work they did to ensure local communities situated on routes to and from the event were listened to."

However, Cllr Airey warned that the cost of staging the event still represented a significant cost to taxpayers and options to address this must be considered.

“The cost of policing the event and carrying out the clean-up operation when it finishes still presents a significant extra cost to our county and a survey I carried out last year showed strong public support for the idea of the event contributing directly to the cost it places on local public services each year," he said.

“Recouping the annual cost of staging the event to local agencies, which last year totalled £213,000 including £81,000 in police costs alone, through a fee for all fairgoers, a permit system for caravans or a licensing charge for the event, is something that must be looked at sooner rather than later.”