From the Cumbria Constabulary
The 2012 Appleby Fair has been described as an enjoyable event despite the challenges created by the weather.
This year's Fair ends tomorrow (June 13), with the final remaining Gypsies and Travellers set to leave the licensed campsites north of the town.
Numbers at the Fair this year were similar to that in 2011, with 1329 (1138 caravans + 191 horse drawn bow-tops) this year compared to last year’s figure of 1325 (1134 caravans and 191 bow tops).
Since the fair opened on Thursday 7th June, 28 people were arrested. This is significantly lower than the 2011 figure of 48 and 2010 figure of 62.
The number of market stalls operating at the Fair was also similar to that of last year, with 253 this year compared to 260 in 2011. No unlicensed street traders were found during visits by Eden District Council licensing staff attending the Fair.
Despite the main part of the river being closed off to horse washing on the Saturday, due to the river level rising significantly after heavy rain the previous night, everyone co-operated and remained in good spirits.
Appleby’s licensees coped well with the increased numbers of customers who visited their premises over the weekend despite a power failure on Saturday which had a knock on effect for a number of premises causing them to close early – all premises reopened for business as usual on Sunday.
An additional 31 temporary toilets were set out within Appleby, for those attending the Fair to use, the town centre of Appleby was cleaned every day of the Fair. Given the extra challenges created by the muddy conditions, the clean-up staff on the streets and in the toilets worked hard in difficult conditions to ensure that these areas were cleaned and stocked.
Road side verges outside Appleby are also being cleared. The clean-up of the licensed caravan sites is the responsibility of the site operators and will be monitored in accordance with the site licensing conditions.
This year saw the daily forum for 12 representatives from local communities and Gypsy and Traveller sites working extremely well together and conversing about their concerns and providing feedback to the Multi-Agency Group about the Fair.
For some the fair has given cause for concern, particularly during the lead up to the event and where large numbers of caravans congregated. The agencies will work with local parish councils over the next 12 months to discuss such concerns and where possible identify steps that can be taken prior to next year’s Fair to try to resolve or reduce these issues.
Despite the town becoming congested early on Thursday morning as visitors were arriving in the town, this was quickly resolved. Some disruption during the Fair is inevitable, but agencies worked to keep this to a minimum and the traffic management plan in the town worked well and provided the right balance between pedestrian safety and the need to be able get around.
Portable electronic warning signs were deployed along the A66 by the Highways Agency to warn drivers about slow horse-drawn vehicles and traffic flows were also monitored by additional mounted cameras.
Robin Hooper, Chief Executive of Eden District Council and Chair of the Appleby Fair MASCG, said: "The weather does have an impact on Appleby and it is something we can never fully plan for, last year we had high temperatures and issues with the heat. This year it has been rain which caused issues with the river and muddy conditions.
“The river levels on Saturday were of great concern and the decision to close the main part of the river was made based on people safety and animal welfare. After seeing the levels recede, the river was opened quickly on Sunday morning and the feedback received was very positive, with overall co-operation and understanding at the decision.
“We’ll have a full debrief later this month but initial feedback for the 2012 Fair was positive, with some issues which will need to be addressed for next year. Concerns were raised over horses being grazed in areas which Parishes had sought to keep un-grazed and rubbish not being cleared. It is important that we are made aware of any issues in order for us to address them for next year.
“All of the agencies involved highlighted how there was a good working partnership which benefited everyone working at the fair. All our hard work and planning has paid off and that the operations put in place have worked well. I’d like to thank all agencies involved, local residents and the Gypsies and Travellers for their co-operations with us in making these arrangements work.
“People can leave feedback on this year’s fair via the official fair website www.applebyfair.org or by writing to me at Eden District Council."
Assistant Chief Constable Michelle Skeer who was in charge of the policing operation at this year’s Fair, said: “The fair this year has been challenging with the weather but everyone co-operated with the decisions made and were very understanding. People realised that their safety and that of the animals was our priority when we had to close the river and worked with us to ensure everyone had a safe and enjoyable event.
“The number of arrests made this year is significantly lower compared to previous years and majority were for low level offences. The vast majority of those who attended behaved impeccably and really enjoyed themselves. This is a great achievement – especially when Appleby welcomed over 40,000 people over the weekend.
“Many of the agencies involved have expressed how this has been one of the safest and enjoyable fairs that they have seen for many years.
“Police, as part of the MASCG, have worked with members of the settled and Gypsy and Traveller communities at daily meetings to establish if they have any questions and highlight things that were working well or they felt needed to change. Overall there was positive feedback received on each day about how the fair was going and any views were taken on board in an aim to be rectified.
“We will now review our operation in detail, which is done every year, and welcome the views of all communities so that we can continue to improve the safety and experience of the event for everyone.”
Billy Welch, a Gypsy representative on the MASCG, said: "This year’s fair has not been damped by the weather, everyone has enjoyed themselves and the low number of arrests shows that people have been more responsible and I am proud of this.
“The fair was very well organised this year and the overwhelming feedback that I’m getting is that the police were excellent during the fair and have been extremely professional. All of the hard work by everyone helped people have had a wonderful time.”
Sue Spence from Appleby has praised the cleanup operation undertaken by Eden District Council’s contractor Enterprise at this year’s Fair, Sue said: “On behalf of the local community I would like to thank the teams who have undertaken the cleanup operation at the Fair. They have done an excellent job every day to maintain the town’s levels of cleanliness, when they are approached by local residents or visitors they are always polite and professional and deserve a great deal of praise for a job well done.”
Officers from both Cumbria Police and Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service did a joint road safety operation on over the weekend to educate young drivers in a bid to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on the county’s roads.
Fire and police officers pulled in vehicles to speak to their drivers and passengers about the importance of road safety and offered them the opportunity to view the fire service road safety videos as an alternative to enforcement.
The RSCPA were busy during the fair with a large number of staff working throughout the weekend, with vets being on hand to provide advice and emergency treatment when necessary. During the course of the fair 14 horses were seized and will be re-homed, same will be subject to on-going prosecution investigation.
Dogs being left in cars were a concern, with two incidents when dogs had to be pulled out ana a caution issued to those responsible. A spokesperson said: “The weather wasn’t great during the course of the fair, but the temperature still remained high, which is increased in a car. The dogs which were rescued were ok but it is a warning to everyone to have consideration when taking your dog out with you in the car.
“For us it was a very positive fair, with a lot of people coming to speak to us for advice and there was a drop in the number of complaints regarding animal welfare, which is always good to see.
“The success of the fair is dependent upon everyone working closely together, which has been evident this year, in dealing with river issues and protecting the safety of people and animals. This close working partnership helped the fair to be the success it was.”
During the whole event, the Ambulance Service were called to 51 incidents, 15 of these required hospital treatment, two of which were more serious after being involved in collisions with horses.
A spokesperson from the Ambulance Service said: “Overall we had an enjoyable event, the incidents which we had to deal with mainly minor injuries and were treatable on scene. The interaction and working with the other agencies was great and very successful.