MASCG response to media reporting on future of Appleby Horse Fair
The below has been released following media reports this morning concerning the future of Appleby Horse Fair.
Gypsy and Traveller representatives on the Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (MASCG), Billy Welch and Bill Lloyd, said:
“The reality of Appleby Horse Fair is it is better run and better policed than ever before and this is supported by significant falls in arrests and disorder.
“The Fair as a whole has improved immeasurably since the formation of the Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group. Every year we keep working and it keeps getting better and better.
“There have been issues this year - especially in the lead up to the Fair at places like Kirkby Stephen - involving a few individuals who do not represent the behaviour of the vast majority of Gypsies and Travellers. This is to be expected from an event involving such an influx of people.
“We, the Gypsy and Traveller representatives, condemn all antisocial behaviour and violence of any kind by anyone and we go out of our way to try to prevent it from happening.
“Whilst the majority of these issues have been unexpected and out of the ordinary, everyone at the MASCG will work together to learn from any problems so we can all work together to help ensure they are not an issue in future years.
“Appleby Horse Fair is a wonderful event with a rich history which brings enormous economic benefits to the local area. The event has been running for hundreds of years – and will be here for generations more.
“We understand the Commissioner is just representing the opinions of people who are not happy but, in this instance, his comments - which we know do not represent the views of Cumbria Constabulary - have been unhelpful.”
Chairman of Appleby Horse Fair's MASCG Matthew Neal, Deputy Chief Executive of Eden District Council, said:
“Appleby Fair is an event that has been in existence for hundreds of years. It is an event without a single organiser which adds to its unique character and associated challenges . The Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group works all-year-round to ensure the safest possible Fair for everybody involved, including Gypsies and Travellers and local residents.
“This multi-agency approach has resulted in a better organised response to the Fair since the creation of the full partnership in 2009.
“We are aware of issues prior to this year’s event in areas such as Kirkby Stephen. When those issues have been raised, we have looked to respond swiftly and robustly, as a multi-agency group.
“The strength of the Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group is that, when such issues are brought forward, we work to find a solution and make sure there is learning for future events.
“It is worth noting that the number of crimes and incidents responded to have, in recent years, decreased. But this year we are acutely aware of heightened concerns within some communities and we put immediate measures in place to provide support to those communities.
“No two years are the same and that adds to the annual challenges that face all agencies.
“Clearly after every Fair we want to learn from affected parties and we will engage with all key communities.”
Superintendent Mark Pannone of Cumbria Constabulary, a member of the MASCG, said:
“The role of the Constabulary in relation to Appleby Horse Fair is to effectively and impartially support the multi-agency group in our policing of the event.
“Our main priority will always be to ensure public safety and we work closely with local communities, Gypsies and Travellers, others who visit the area and our partner agencies to achieve this.
“The annual event has been running for hundreds of years and we recognise the concerns that are raised by some local residents due to the large influx of people arriving on a small area of the county.
“We will continue to work closely with every interested party to ensure that Appleby Horse Fair is as successful as possible.”