Criticism has mounted over the lack of cost transparency related to the Appleby Horse Fair.

Whilst there is no formal organiser of the Fair, traditionally, the Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (MASCG), created in 2008 as a combination of agencies to bring together skills and knowledge to support the Fair, published the associated costs incurred by agencies such as Cumbria Police and Westmorland & Furness Council.

However, "changes in public sector organisations" this year have led to a hold on releasing financial information.

The 2023 report outlined the highest number of arrests and animal welfare incidents since 2015, partly attributed to hot temperatures and an increased presence of authorities.

This year's report however, stated: "MASCG has agreed that due to the changes in public sector organisations, in particular the creation of the new Unitary Council of Westmorland and Furness Council.

"Financial information will no longer be provided as the budgetary systems, which are still being established, are not able to provide information that solely accounts for Appleby Fair."

Such changes have sparked critique, including from MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, Tim Farron.

He said: "The horse fair is a huge event so it’s important that there is transparency around costs.

"I have written to the council and the Multi-Agency Strategic Coordination Group to seek answers."

For comparison, the total cost of the 2022 Fair was £305,969, down from £496,535 in 2021.

Despite the significant reduction in previous years, the public's ability to scrutinise the 2023 cost has been limited.

The Appleby Fair Communities Group spoke out on this issue, with a spokesperson saying: "MASCG is made up of each public agency and these costs have been published in previous years.

"The public agencies are answerable to the public especially as in some cases they are supposed to represent our interests in MASCG.

"Quite simply if public money is spent then the agencies are accountable to tell us how it’s spent."

In response, a spokesperson from MASCG said: "The MASCG is comprised of a range of public bodies and organisations coordinating their efforts in response to Appleby Horse Fair.

"The MASCG is not responsible for the organisation, or management of the Fair, nor is its function to account for the costs incurred by its members.

"As such, the MASCG is unable to provide a combined figure for the costs of the response to the Fair."