PASSIONS ran high at a meeting to discuss the impact of Appleby Horse Fair this week.

Billy Welch – who represents the Gypsy and Traveller community – said that more needs to be done to get the fair under control.

On Thursday night officials representing councils, emergency services and the Gypsy and Traveller community gathered to answer residents’ questions.

With Covid-19 still in play, Appleby Town Council could only offer 100 seats to the public, on a first come, first served basis, meaning crowds gathered outside complained they would not be able to have their voices heard. Some were poking their heads through windows to hear.

The was quelled by the town clerk and the mayor who offered up questions.

Residents were up in arms and wanted answers and at the same time offered up solutions that they thought would help make the fair better.

Agreeing with the community calling for a smaller fair, Billy Welch – the Shera Rom, or Head Gypsy – said: “I said this years ago that if more fields were opened up it would get out of hand. The genie has been let out of the bottle and it is going to be hard to get it back in.

“I think the fair had got too big. I look after all those who stay on Fair Hill and we clean up and pay for that clean up. If there was only the people staying on the hill it wouldn’t be like this.

“There are too many hangers on, that’s because licences were handed out for the other fields.”

The residents want it to go back to how it was when they could go up on the hill and be part of the fair but now they believe it is taking over the town and they feel it is out of hand.

The idea for Appleby Horse Fair to become ticketed was made by several residents in a bid for more control, which this year was described as a “free for all”.

The Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group leaders agreed that they would have a look into how they would be able to ticket the event but this would then bring.