[A]ppleby Horse Fair 2017 begins to draw to a close today (Sunday 11 June 2017), with many of the Gypsies and Travellers starting their journeys home.
Road safety is a priority across Cumbria, with the Police urging motorists to slow down and take extra care especially around the Appleby area.
The total number of caravans was down by 112 on last year (815 were motorised caravans (trailers) and 176 were bowtops or traditional horse drawns). The number of traditional bowtops was up by 23 compared to 2016. Stall numbers were down by 33 – with a total of 243 stalls (the majority of these were on Winters’ market fields).
The Multi Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (MASCG) of public agencies and Gypsy and Traveller representatives, who work to improve the safety of the Horse Fair, will now start the evaluation process for this year’s event, by gathering feedback from local residents, Gypsies and Travellers and visitors who attended the Fair.
Dr Robin Hooper, Chair of MASCG and the Chief Executive of Eden District Council said: “All the public agencies, charities such as the RSPCA and their dedicated volunteers, plus Gypsy and Traveller representatives have been working extremely hard not just during the Fair, but during the past year to ensure that Appleby Horse Fair is as safe and enjoyable as possible.
“The operational plan has been implemented successfully and the vast majority of people attending the Fair have enjoyed the good atmosphere, despite some very wet weather. Cumbria Police have again worked impeccably well and have taken a community led approach to public safety.
“The number of early arrivals has again been low and the traffic management plan has help to minimise traffic congestion in and around the Appleby area, especially when Gypsies and Travellers migrated onto Fair Hill. The clean up operation in Appleby has ran very smoothly. The clean up of outlying areas will be undertaken on a priority basis and will be completed over the next few days.
“I would also like to thank the licensees of the local pubs who have worked proactively with us to implement the Voluntary Licensing Charter. This helps to foster responsible drinking. Carlisle and Eden Community Safety Partnership have supported local licensees by providing funding for Door Supervisors during Appleby Fair.”
Gypsy and Traveller representative on MASCG, Billy Welch said: “This year’s Fair has enjoyed a really positive atmosphere, even the rain couldn’t dampen our spirits! All has been peaceful and quiet on Fair Hill, the traditional stopping place for Gypsies and Travellers at the Fair.
“I would like to thank Cumbria Police, the public agencies and the local communities for their continued work to support and improve safety at the Fair. The work of the RSPCA and the other animal welfare charities deserves due credit and please support their efforts by making donations to these worthwhile causes.”
Temporary Chief Superintendent Mark Pannone, the Gold Commander for Cumbria Police at Appleby Fair said: “Public safety remains the number one priority for the Police on the final main day of the Fair. We ask Gypsies and Travellers, the local community and especially visitors to Appleby Fair, to use their common sense and stay safe around horses.
“We need people who bring horses to Appleby Fair to exercise them responsibly, by showing due care and consideration to the people and traffic around them. Later today, people will start to make their way home from the Fair, so we ask motorists to be aware of slow moving traffic and increased congestion in the Appleby area over the next few days.”
A Community Advisory Group has met throughout the Fair and provided feedback to MASCG from both residents and Gypsies and Travellers. In general, they considered that the 2017 Horse Fair to have gone really well, with very few incidents of concern.
The RSPCA and their colleagues from animal welfare charities, including vets, addressed a number of animal welfare issues at this year’s Fair. RSPCA Chief Inspector, Rob Melloy, said: “The main concern for the RSPCA this year was the high water level of the River Eden where horse washing takes place. The sheer volume of rainfall in the lead up to and during the Fair meant on some occasions we had to close the River Ramp and Jubilee Ford on a precautionary basis to protect the safety of animals and the public.
“We have issued a number of warnings at this year’s Fair and have a number of on-going investigations. Most disappointingly, we had to rescue two dogs left in a car, despite prior warnings about the Fair not being a suitable event for dogs. I would like to emphasise that Appleby Horse Fair is a large scale event and it is only a small minority of people who attend the Fair that have little regard for animal welfare.
“We have a dedicated group of officers and volunteers from not just the RSPCA but also Redwings Horse Sanctuary, World Horse Welfare, Blue Cross, the Donkey Sanctuary and, joining us on the education stand, the British Horse Society (BHS) and Bransby Horses, who, supported by MASCG, address any animal welfare issues.”
To take part in the Evaluation Process for the 2017 Appleby Horse Fair, please complete the evaluation form at www.applebyfair.org/information/feedback-form or email the Chair of MASCG at: [email protected] or write to The Chief Executive of Eden District Council, Town Hall, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 7QF. The public debrief about the Horse Fair is taking place at Appleby Public Hall on Monday 17 July 2017 from 7pm.