Roma community

Police 'pleased' with public feedback on Appleby operation

The man in charge of policing at Appleby Horse Fair says that, overall, he's pleased with the way the event has gone.

Thousands of visitors were in the town for Europe’s biggest Gypsy and Traveller fair and new measures were in place including extra officers and a dedicated extension on the 101 system.

Horses in River Eden

One tradition of the fair popular with many sightseers, the washing of horses in the River Eden, had to be halted for a time after heavy rain raised water levels.

Police issued one appeal for help, to trace a man who "grabbed" a woman walking back towards Fair Hill early on Sunday morning.

Ch Supt Rob O'Connor who was in charge of the operation, said there was some crime but he would expect that with such huge crowds coming to the area for several days.

I've picked up some real positive feedback from the public about the way we've policed this year's event, it has been busy but overall I'm really pleased."

Ch Supt Rob O'Connor
Pope Francis greets crowds at a mass in central Romania
Pope Francis greets tens of thousands of supporters on the final day of his trip to Romania

Gypsy representatives hope for a better Appleby this year

Gypsy representatives, who are holding an event to talk to people in Kirkby Stephen this evening, say they hope various measures should mean less friction between travelling people and the communities they pass through on the way to Appleby Fair.

Last year there were reports of anti-social behaviour and at least one serious assault on the road passing through Kirkby Lonsdale and Sedbergh to Kirkby Stephen and Brough.

Billy Welch, a leading member of the Roma community, and Bill Lloyd, who also represents travellers on the support group that looks after the fair, will join police and officials in the Kings Arms to try to create more understanding of the horse fair.

Bowtop caravan on way to Appleby
PA/John Giles

Hopefully this year with a few measures put into place by the police and Eden District Council, things will be a bit better and it will ease some of the concerns."

Billy Welch

We're never going to be able to solve all the problems, but we're doing what we can, and we're asking people to come and talk, come and meet, and see where we go from here."

Bill Lloyd

Leading Gypsy to meet Kirkby Stephen people ahead of fair

Gypsy and Traveller representatives are holding what they describe as a "cultural evening" in Kirkby Stephen tonight to build up a better understanding with people in the town ahead of Appleby Fair.

Gypsy caravan

Billy Welch, a Gypsy "Shera Rom" who looks after the main encampment at Appleby on Fair Hill, and Bill Lloyd, who represents travellers, will be speaking and answer questions about efforts to preserve the character of the event.

Mr Welch said: "Whilst myself and Bill Lloyd can’t speak for everyone who attends the fair, most of whom are not Gypsies and Travellers, we can help get across any concerns local people may have.”

The event, which will end with Mr Lloyd telling stories and singing song, starts at 19:30 at the Kings Arms.

I think this could be a great opportunity for both the settled and the Gypsy and Traveller community to build up a better understanding of one another."

Billy Welch
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