Public furious at ineffective policing of horse fair roadside encampments

Date: Tuesday 3rd July 2018

Sir, The public meeting for the residents of the Kirkby Stephen area about Appleby horse fair was standing room only. There were approximately 250 people in attendance, between them, I calculated, paying more than £500,000 in council tax.

So half of the audience’s money effectively pays the £250,000 cost of managing an event with no ownership and this fund is given to non-elected individuals to spend without resolving any of the deliberate intimidation and blocking of the highways to law-abiding citizens of the county.

Phil Dew, the chairman, had been castigated for saying Kirkby Stephen was a Wild West town in the lead-up to the horse fair. However, there was a huge cheer and clapping for several minutes in support of him from the entire crowd, as that is exactly what it was like.

The public acknowledged the fact that the highways authority put more than 2,000 posts in the roadsides to stop illegal encampments, but the A685 (the main alternate route if the A66 is closed) was on many occasions impassable. No authority moved any encampment on down the A685, even though there was a traffic regulation order on that road.

I recommend the police actively announce the email crime reporting system to the general public so it assists with true real-time statistics and actively encourages the public to use it. Also MASCG, which spends the £250,000, should have an email reporting system linked to the police.

This would enable sharing of social media and enable people to upload dash cam and mobile footage that can be used to better police the situation. This would include the animal welfare photographs and other incidents that were filmed but only shared locally.

Regarding the local businessman whose back was broken, the police have not demonstrated good public service as no-one has been apprehended for that awful crime, the like of which could have happened to any resident in the area with fatal consequences.

Highways and the police admitted that many of these roadside encampments were against the regulation orders they had all pre-agreed, but they were not effectively policed. The public are rightly furious about this.

Highways have a duty of care and, under the health and safety act, if an incident is foreseeable the managing party must take action to prevent the incident from occurring.

Finally, the consensus from the audience is that this is the Appleby horse fair, not the Kirkby Stephen horse fair. Yours etc,

STUART SAUNDERS

By email