Put more police on Kirkby Stephen streets

Date: Tuesday 3rd July 2018

Sir, As one of Kirkby Stephen’s district councillors resident in Appleby, I can claim a bit of an overview of Appleby horse fair.

In recent years at least parts of Appleby have felt peaceful, if crowded, but increasingly I have seen how Kirkby Stephen, with less of a police presence, has suffered from an influx of people, horse-drawn vehicles, horses and motor vehicles.

This year on the Tuesday of fair week I saw ponies and traps being “flashed” along Kirkby Stephen’s main street to prospective buyers, with the police saying they were powerless to intervene as the culprits said they were “just exercising them”.

It’s a popular bandwagon to jump on to say “stop it”, but that’s not possible. Appleby horse fair is an institution which has grown over the centuries, but that’s no reason for not trying to manage it at a reasonable level, bringing a better balance between our two small towns, their residents, travellers, gypsies and visitors.

It should not be forgotten that by far the largest group of those coming to the area do so from all parts of the country to view the spectacle of the horse fair, bringing trade to those public-facing businesses who feel able to stay open.

Not so very many years ago, I understand the fair was curtailed due to foot and mouth disease. The way this was done should be looked at to see if there are some useful lessons to be learned and put into practice in future years.

The police and crime commissioner has said he is going to apply to the Home Office for funding for future fairs. A substantial proportion of this should be earmarked for Kirkby Stephen to put more police on the streets with powers to act.

The third of three follow-up meetings this year is to be held in Appleby on 16th July. I hope that anyone with issues to raise and particularly anyone with positive and practical suggestions about how to manage the fair in future years makes every effort to attend. Yours etc,


St Anne’s,