Horse fair harmony?

Date: Monday 24th December 2018

PREPARATIONS are already well under way for next year’s Appleby horse fair, but discussions surrounding the annual event could well be more harmonious in future.

The Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (MASCG), which oversees the running of the fair but does not organise it, has agreed that local councillors can have a place at the table around which matters deeply affecting the residents they represent are discussed.

There was initial resistance to the idea from MASCG, which felt an arm’s length forum, or steering group, at which local councillors could be consulted, would be preferable. However, in view of the clamour for Eden residents to be represented on the group in the same way as the gypsy and traveller communities are, this stance risked alienating Eden Valley residents, many of whom have been unhappy with the MASCG way of working.

Elected representatives of the public have come under increasing pressure in view of events in the run-up to the last fair in June, so it is only right they are able to have some influence on the decisions which have previously been made without their direct input.

The role of MASCG is not an easy one. It has to consider many views and issues in achieving its aim of ensuring each fair is as safe as possible.

But it has to be accountable for its decisions — and extending representation to include local councillors will go some way to achieving that.