Number of visitors up and Fair winds down
Regular visitors to Appleby Horse Fair would have noticed an increase in the number of visitors to the town this year.
Encouraged by the good weather - save for the thunderstorms late on Saturday and Sunday afternoon – there has been a high turnout both from the Gypsy and Traveller community and visitors coming to Appleby to watch and take part in the unique event.
On Saturday there were close to 1,200 caravans at the Fair, compared with around 990 last year, with the number of traders having also increased.
Community meetings have been held in the town throughout the Fair as agencies seek to get the best picture possible of any issues being faced by local people and visitors, with the feedback received being generally positive.
Chairman of the Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (MASCG), Eden District Council Deputy Chief Executive Matthew Neal said:
“This has been one of the busiest Fairs we have seen in recent years, thanks in no small part to the warm weather we have had throughout.
“The feedback we have received from both local residents and Gypsies and Travellers regarding the Horse Fair itself has been positive in the main. In relation to concerns that have been raised by communities, their concerns have been heard. Residents' concerns will be at the forefront of our minds during the review of the 2018 Fair which will inform the planning to prevent repeat occurrences for next year's Fair.
“Finally, I would like to thank everyone from the different agencies which make up the MASCG for their efforts this year in making the 2018 Appleby Horse Fair as safe as possible.”
Seven arrests were made in the town relating to the Horse Fair. One of those was for breach of a court order and another for a fail to appear offence. There were also two arrests for being drunk and disorderly, one for a public order offence, one for drink-driving and one for a breach of the peace.
Cumbria Constabulary Superintendent Mark Pannone said:
“Anyone who has been to Appleby this weekend will have noticed this has been a well-attended Horse Fair.
“Despite the numbers, crime and disorder has remained comparatively low and I thank the majority of visitors for their behaviour.
“We’ve worked closely with all communities, not just during the Fair but in the lead-up and we are always listening to the concerns and feedback we receive.
“We plan all year round and will learn lessons from this year’s event, particularly regarding some of the strain that was felt by surrounding towns and villages in the days leading up to the Fair.
“We begin each Appleby Horse Fair with the primary goal of keeping people safe, which is no small task with an event of this size. This is only achievable thanks to the partnership of all the different agencies, alongside the good-will of local residents and Gypsies and Travellers.
“I would like to thank all of the officers and staff who have worked professionally throughout what is a large, complex and unique event.”
Chief Inspector Rob Melloy of the RSPCA said:
“It has been a busy Fair for the RSPCA with exhaustion of horses being one of our main concerns. Whilst the warm weather may have played a part, we were seeing people working their horses to the point of failing exhaustion tests and we have four on-going investigations as a result.
“Disappointingly we still had people arriving at the Fair and leaving dogs in cars. We had two incidents – one where we were able to rescue the dog as the car door was not locked and a second where the owner arrived back as officers were about to take action to enter the car. None of the animals suffered as a result.
“Whilst it is difficult to count the number of horses, there appeared to be a lot more than at last year’s Fair and, in welfare terms, it has not been too bad a year at all.
“I would like to thank the other charities which helped at this year’s event; Redwings Horse Sanctuary, Bransby Horses, The Donkey Sanctuary, Blue Cross and World Horse Welfare. I would also like to thank our colleagues in the police for their fantastic support.”
Gypsy and Traveller representative on the MASCG, Billy Welch, said:
"I’m delighted with how this year’s Fair has gone. The weather has been very good for the most part and, as usual, the Fair has been a great opportunity for families who only see each other once a year to meet up.
“Throughout the year I attend the MASCG meetings with all the other agencies. Us all working together really does help to make the event as safe and enjoyable as possible.
“People I have spoken to are saying it has been one of the best Fairs ever. Being a member of the multi-agency group, I hope this Fair will be the bench-mark for what future Fairs should be.
“Every year we try to make it better and better so that it can keep being enjoyed for generations to come.”