Wild West claims over horsefair “unhelpful and untrue”

Date: Friday 22nd June 2018

AN Appleby councillor has likened this year’s horse fair to the “Wild West” and criticised police for their perceived lack of control.

The controversial event dominated discussions at Appleby Town Council’s meeting on Wednesday.

Martin Stephenson said: “I did notice a lack of engagement by the police in some issues. Most things seemed to flow past them. It gave a sense of Wild West that we used to have and was a step back.”

He said an attack on an Appleby man in the run-up to the fair was “dreadful” and “epitomised that ‘Wild West’ side”.

“The fair travellers probably did think it was a good fair because they were not interrupted in their enjoyment of the fair, even at the expense of residents,” he said.

Hugh Potts said the Bongate area was “out of control” and police had been “outnumbered”. Traffic between the Grapes and the Royal Oak had been frightening and residents’ gardens all along that route had been used as toilets.

Town, district and county councillor Andy Connell took issue with the comments, saying that comparisons to the Wild West were unhelpful and untrue.

“The comparison to the Wild West gets us nowhere. We need to be careful what we say,” he added.

He said he had been at the market field every day of the fair and did not see that same picture of “inactive” police as others were claiming.

Mr. Stephenson replied that he had lived in Appleby and experienced the fair for many years and stood by his comments.

Following the meeting Mr. Connell contacted the Herald to put forward information from one of the community evening meetings, run by the Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group which oversees the fair.

“We were told by the gold commander that the police had successfully intercepted in the Penrith area and turned back a group of individuals heading for Appleby with serious criminal intent.

“In keeping with their low-key approach, they chose not to publicise this at the time. Stuff does go on behind the scenes.”