I AND many other local people would like to say a huge thank you to all the people who listened to the concerns raised after last year's Appleby Fair lead up.

The police, MASCG, Phil Dew and the Gypsy community and their representatives deserve praise for listening to the public as a whole. There will always be some who will critique, but the vast majority will, I’m sure, also send positive messages of support.

More than 250 people attended the public meetings last year and there was wide condemnation of MASCG and the perceived lack of policing in Kirkby Stephen.

More than £237,000 was spent last year out of Eden council tax revenue, yet due to the large volume of encampments along the main A roads and highways, locals and travellers were put at risk of road traffic incidents.

A huge difference has been seen by locals who need to get around for business and the A685 remained clear and safe throughout the lead up this year.

We are all grateful that MASCG have a locally elected representative onboard now as it’s our council taxes that are being spent on maintaining the smooth flow of the event throughout our communities.

We are sure the weather difference between last year and this has affected the volumes of Gypsies, Travellers and tourists too, but if more dynamic policing, information, and support between all groups continues as it has this year it can only benefit all parties.

Our communities should be inclusive and embracing of all cultures but if basic courtesy breaks down and people feel intimidated and low level crimes aren’t managed, feelings escalate and tolerance breaks down.

It’s a difficult balancing act, not knowing the volumes of people coming here year on year, but being prepared and listening to all parts of the community is heartening.

A huge and grateful thank you to all those peoples instrumental in enhancing the fair's experience for all communities.

Stuart Saunders

Kirkby Stephen