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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

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Appleby Horse Fair fields in Cumbria open

The fields for Appleby Horse Fair have opened this morning for caravans which are expected to take up residence for next few days.

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A member of the travelling community washes a horse in the river Eden at the start of the Appleby Horse Fair, the annual gathering of gypsies and travellers in Appleby, Cumbria. Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Bow tops have been allowed on to Fair Hill since 5pm yesterday with motorised vehicles able to enter since 4am this morning when gates officially opened.

There has been a significant increase in the number of caravans arriving in the area this year which has subsequently seen significant delays on the roads due to volume of traffic.

Robin Hooper, chair of the Multi-agency Strategic Co-ordination Group (MASCG), said: “The annual gathering at Appleby opened this morning, with an increased volume of traffic to that of previous years.

“The work that has been ongoing throughout the year is a credit to all those agencies who are involved in planning the operational response to the fair. There have been some issues at the start of the week, with some displacement of caravans into unforeseen areas.

“We take on board the issues raised by the community each year and aim to make adjustments. Following concerns in the Sandford Road End area, the community requested for this not to be a stopping area for this year’s fair, which has been complied with. Other areas of change have been to highlight the impact of rubbish and we produced new posters showing the before and affect effects and requested for rubbish to be disposed of correctly.

“Our aim is to strike the right balance between all the communities. This is not without issues but by working together we can continue the family friendly atmosphere at the fair.”

Superintendent Sean Robinson, who is leading the policing operation for the fair, said: "The volume of traffic in the area this morning caused delays on the roads and delayed migration onto the camping areas. Everyone worked together to ensure that with increased demand motorists and members of the public were safe and to minimise the effect on the local community.

“We will be hosting the first Community Group Meeting tonight, where representatives from the communities can raise any concerns. The MASCG works throughout the year to encourage mutual working with all parties involved, from having suitable allocated stopping areas for the Travelling Community to ensuring that the local communities’ concerns are addressed, where possible. We ask that those with concerns raise them via 101 or through this meeting, so we can listen and attempt to address these issues where possible.

“Appleby Horse Fair is not only about one community, but covers 587 square miles, from South Lakeland to the town of Appleby. Numerous partner agencies are involved and the working relationships that have been built up with all community representatives help to reduce tensions and issues each year.

“Our aim is to encourage the family friendly atmosphere that has been present from a number of years now.”

Road safety will continue to be a priority throughout the day, with bow tops continuing to move into 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.

The MASCG will be monitoring river levels throughout this year’s fair as rain is forecast for the area. If levels rise to a point that is deemed unsafe, the situation will be evaluated and action may be taken in the interest of safety.

RSPCA have issued advice about bringing dogs to the fair, with a warning not to bring them this year.

RSPCA chief inspector Rob Melloy said: “Dogs shouldn’t be brought to the 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.

“Fortunately the two dogs pulled out of hot cars last year were okay but that could easily not have been the case. I don’t know what it takes for people to get the message that dogs die in hot cars. It happens fast. If you leave your dog in your car on a hot day it will happen to you.

“Do your dog a favour, leave it at home.”

Caravans and awnings can also get hot on even cloudy days. The RSPCA is working with Cumbria Constabulary on a zero tolerance approach to this and where dogs are considered to be in danger they will be removed.

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