Appleby Fair 2018 was, according to Cumbria Constabulary, one of the quietest for many years, with a record low number of arrests and very few reports of trouble of any kind. It was a surprise therefore when Councillor Phil Dew wrote to the local newspaper alleging a ‘complete breakdown of law and order’ and then called a public meeting for people to air their grievances.
What follows is based on a transcript of a recording of that meeting. There is no disputing that there were a lot of angry people, but the meeting produced almost no hard information about exactly what lay behind their anger – except a very clear general dislike of the visitors to the fair – about 70% of whom are not Gypsies or Travellers. There were many general allegations of lawlessness, intimidation and ‘scenes like the wild west’ but the only hard facts concerned someone urinating in the street – hardly a priority – and people driving horses fast, or late at night – neither of which are illegal. A vile and disgusting assault on a local man following a road traffic accident certainly contributed to the anger, as did the Police Commissioner’s unguarded remark that he would stop the fair if he could, but otherwise the actual evidence of major problems remains very thin indeed.
Amanda Reed writes for Travellers Times. She attended the lively public meeting at Kirkby Stephen and has written a very full and detailed account of what was said. Significantly, there were very few reports at the time of events that were later described as ‘a total breakdown of law and order.’ What was that all about then…? The mismatch beween the public outcry and what actually happened remains something of a mystery.
Click HERE for the full Travellers’ Times feature….
Picture: Martina Roseann (photographer unknown.)