[T]he fields for Appleby Horse Fair opened this morning (Thursday 8 June 2017) with bowtops and trailers (caravans) taking up residence for the next few days. Gypsies and Travellers have been praised by the local public authorities who manage the Fair’s safety for a low number of early arrivals.
The traffic in and around Appleby was well managed by Cumbria Police this morning, as bowtops and trailers (caravans) were allowed onto Fair Hill early, helping commuters to get to work or school on time. The initial figures for the number of caravans attending the Fair show 360 caravans and 118 bowtops (horse drawns) compared to 375 caravans and 119 bowtops in 2016 for the same period.
Dr Robin Hooper Chair of the Multi Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (MASCG) for Appleby Fair said: “Appleby Horse 2017 is underway this morning and I would like to thank those members of the Gypsies and Travellers community for again not arriving too soon with their trailers, the number of early arrivals in on par with recent years, helping to reduce the impact of the Fair on rural communities.
“The ramp used at Appleby Fair for washing horses in the River Eden was not closed at 12 noon today (Thursday 8 June) as anticipated as the level of rain forecast did not fall sufficiently to raise the river level past the 0.5m safety guideline. We are continuously monitoring the river level to protect the safety of animals and the public.
“The operational planning by MASCG for this year’s Fair has gone well and we ask people attending the Fair to respect the local communities in and around Appleby and use the amenities provided for the event and dispose of their rubbish correctly and not dispose of rubbish on private land which causes a nuisance to land owners and as well as being an offence. The Council investigates throughout the year instances of fly tipping and does take action where the evidence exists against those responsible as an incentive in part to discourage any future such unlawful activity.”
Billy Welch, a Gypsy and Traveller representative on MASCG, said: “I would like to thank the Gypsies and Travellers who are making their way to Appleby Fair for using the temporary stopping places provided and for again not arriving too soon for this year’s event. This helps make more spaces available at temporary stopping places for bowtops and for horse grazing.”
Temporary Chief Superintendent Mark Pannone, from Cumbria Police said: “The start of Appleby Horse Fair has gone well. We have only had calls for minor issues in relations to the Fair and the migration of Gypsies and Travellers onto Fair Hill has gone well and eased any traffic congestion for residents. We have placed an emergency 40mph speed limit on the A685 road outside the normal 30mph speed limits between Kirkby Stephen and Brough for the next seven days. This will help to improve road safety in the area with more horse drawn vehicles on the roads during this period. So please allow more time for your journeys and slow down.
“We will be hosting the first Community Group Meeting tonight, where local people and Gypsy and Traveller representatives can raise any areas of concern. The MASCG works all year round to encourage mutual understanding with all the parties involved with the Fair, from having suitable temporary stopping places for the Travelling community, to ensuring that local community concerns are addressed. Where possible, we ask those with concerns to raise them via the Police 101 non-emergency number or through this meeting, so we can listen and attempt to address these issues where possible.”
Road safety will continue to be a priority throughout the day, with bowtops continuing to arrive in the area. Motorists are advised to continue to be careful when driving in the area, with the risk of slow moving vehicles being around the corner. Please drive to the road conditions with wet weather forecast over the weekend and slow down and allow more time for your journeys especially on the A66.
The RSPCA has warned dog owners not to bring their pets to the Horse Fair. RSPCA Chief Inspector Rob Melloy said: “Dogs should not be brought to the Horse Fair at all; it is quite simply not a place for them. Horses can get “spooked” by dogs and dogs can get trampled by horses. We also don’t want to see any dogs being left behind in vehicles either. I don’t know what it takes for people to get the message that dogs die quickly in hot vehicles. It happens so fast. So do your dog a favour, leave it at home.”
Caravans and awnings can also get hot, even on cloudy days. The RSPCA is working with Cumbria Police on a zero tolerance approach to this and where dogs are considered to be at risk they will be removed.
Keep up to date with the latest Appleby Horse Fair news online at www.applebyfair.org or via Twitter @ApplebyFair or Facebook /ApplebyHorseFair