Appleby Horse Fair 2021 evaluation report published

9 February 2022

The Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordination Group (MASCG) has published its annual evaluation report for the 2021 Appleby Horse Fair.

The MASCG’s principal objective is the preparation, delivery & co-ordination of an operational plan to deliver a safe and enjoyable Fair for all. The group comprises representatives from Eden District Council, Cumbria County Council, South Lakeland District Council, Cumbria Constabulary, North West Ambulance Service, the RSPCA, the Environment Agency, Highways England, the elected representatives of local settled communities and representatives of the gypsy and traveller communities.

The MASCG consulted all groups involved with the Fair in compiling the report.
The 2021 Fair was held against the backdrop of the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID 19 pandemic, which led to the cancellation of the 2020 Fair and the postponement of the 2021 Fair to mid-August, due to ongoing restrictions around social gatherings.

Les Clark, Deputy Chief Executive of Eden District Council and Chairman of the MASCG for the 2021 Fair noted within the report that, “The planning for the 2021 Fair was both heavily influenced and significantly complicated by the changing position on COVID regulations and guidance.”

Whilst infection rates were falling in the run up to the 2021 Fair, the potential for the Fair to result in increased COVID infection was a key concern particularly amongst the settled community. There was also the risk of transmission to, or within the Gypsy and Traveller community.

These concerns prompted the MASCG to introduce a series of mitigating measures, in close coordination with Director of Public Health. These measures included the issuing of ‘Don’t arrive too soon’ messages, the provision of a mobile vaccination unit; the distribution of testing kits to transit sites in the run up to the Fair; the provision of free WiFi for those attending the fair to make use of the NHS contact tracing app and increased marshalling at venues to manage crowds.

The report concludes that, as the Fair did not go ahead in 2020 and people were in lockdown for much of the previous year, this may have contributed to increased numbers attending the 2021 Fair. However, whilst the large numbers and added complications raised a number of challenges, the Fair itself was safe and enjoyable for the vast majority of those that attended.

The report also identifies Actions for the 2022 Fair, including reviews of the provision of toilet facilities in Appleby, the clean-up arrangements at transit sites and The Sands area and of the availability and adequacy of stopping places and transit sites.

There will also be a consultation on changes to the Fair’s Traffic Regulation Order to adopt emergency and temporary measures added for the 2019 and 2021 Fairs, including a temporary 40mph speed limit on the A685 between Appleby Road and Brough.

The MASCG has already agreed with the Gypsy and Traveller communities that the date of the 2022 Fair should be moved to Thursday 9 June to avoid the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday Weekend. This will allow local settled communities to plan their own community celebrations around this historic event.