Horse fair claims “a clear and blatant exaggeration”

Date: Tuesday 30th October 2018

Sir, County councillor Phil Dew makes some fair points (Herald, 9th October) about Appleby horse fair but he is mistaken when he states that the police review said very little about the policing operation in 2018.

Was he actually at the meeting, I wonder? Andrew Slattery’s presentation provided a mass of factual detail about the policing operation. That detail clearly contradicted Mr Dew’s assertion of “a complete breakdown of law and order”’ which is perhaps why he denies that these facts were presented.

Mr Dew suggests that the police blame residents for not reporting incidents. Does he think the police are psychic? How are the police supposed to respond to an incident if nobody reports it?

I stated very clearly that the disgusting assault on the businessman on the Soulby road caused genuine and justified fear and anxiety. No-one denies that there was some unacceptable antisocial behaviour and petty crime in Kirkby Stephen, but it was nothing like as bad as the picture painted by Mr Dew.

I stand by my suggestion that these problems have been “politicised”. When elected politicians present an exaggerated version of a story, it is usually for political reasons. The statement that there was “a complete breakdown of law and order” is a clear and blatant exaggeration, and is contradicted not only by the police themselves, but by those residents of Kirkby Stephen who had a completely different story to tell.

After the public meeting I was approached by residents who live and work in the middle of town and they informed me categorically that the problems were being exaggerated.

I would also like to correct a misunderstanding in the letter from Mr Walker (Herald, 9th October). Parking a caravan by the roadside is not illegal unless it breaches a traffic regulation order (TRO) or causes an obstruction.

It is not correct that the whole of the A685 between Brough and Kirkby Stephen was subject to a prohibition of caravans and a TRO.

Certain sections near bends and junctions were restricted, according to standard safety procedures applied by the highways authority. Unauthorised campsites were assessed daily, using a similar procedure, and if they were deemed unsafe, they were moved on without problems.

Where there is complete agreement between me and Mr Dew is in my support for the police in learning lessons from 2018. Antisocial behaviour is unacceptable, and anyone who comes to Appleby fair and breaks the law will be arrested, but the police need to be told about it.

The gypsy and traveller representatives share the intention of the police to make Appleby fair a safe and enjoyable event for all those who attend, of whom only 25 per cent are gypsies and travellers, and we are committed to working as closely as possible with the police to achieve that end. Yours etc,


(Traveller representative)

By email