MORE than £250,000 of public money was spent on the 2019 Appleby Horse Fair.

The figure, the highest for a decade, came from a range of agencies including Eden Council, Cumbria County Council, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria Constabulary.

The Appleby Fair Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (MASCG), an umbrella body set up to help organise the fair and listen to feedback from fairgoers, residents and businesses, said communities are to be encouraged to offer suggestions on reducing costs and also on the impact temporary stopping - the various encampments set up during the period of the event - has on rural communities.

And MASCG chair Matthew Neal said in a report that despite the increased costs, the reaction from residents and the area’s parish councils was generally positive.

“This year fewer concerns about the fair were raised by residents of Appleby, Kirkby Stephen, Sedbergh and Kirkby Lonsdale,” said Mr Neal in the report.

“There has been positive feedback from town and parish councils of Kirkby Stephen, Kirkby Lonsdale and Sedbergh and other areas.

“There was also positive feedback from members of the public, at MASCG, from elected officials, and via CAG at Appleby.

“For 2020, MASCG will consider various approaches to increasing the provision of temporary stopping places to reduce the impact of the fair on rural communities.

“We will also encourage communities to implement their own solutions, thereby reducing the cost of the fair on public sector agencies.”

The fair is the biggest annual operation of the year by Cumbria Constabulary, and this year the force spent £115,000, an increase of almost £10,000 on the previous year.

But a police spokesman explained they had acted on the concerns of residents that they were under-resourced for the 2018 event and had channelled more resources in response to this.

“The feedback the constabulary has received is that this increase in resourcing was well-received and helped mitigate some of the issues of concern from previous years.”