Sat. Jun 15th, 2024
alert-–-the-great-appleby-clear-up-commences:-huge-operation-gets-underway-to-remove-fields-full-of-rubbish-after-10,000-travellers-descend-on-town-for-annual-horse-fairAlert – The great Appleby clear-up commences: Huge operation gets underway to remove fields full of rubbish after 10,000 travellers descend on town for annual horse fair

A huge operation to clear up piles of rubbish was underway today as thousands of travellers headed home from their annual get-together at the Appleby Horse Fair.

A lone worker in a high-viz jacket was pictured this morning picking through litter left strewn across a field which is believed to have been used for the fair’s market.

The rubbish on display included discarded cardboard boxes, plastic bags and paper in the field which is normally used for livestock.

Although the week-long fair does not officially finish until Wednesday, many travellers camping in caravans started to leave on Sunday morning.

The early exodus was partly due to the overcast weather and a forecast of rain leading to fears that caravans and other vehicles could get stuck in a mudbath.

A contractor working on the clean-up operation said: ‘Some of the fields look a state at the moment – but they will be cleaned up in no time.

‘It might look a mess, but that’s what you get when you have a gathering of thousands of people. I can’t imagine it is different at any music festival.

‘Our aim is to restore the fields to normal as soon as possible. In a few days’ time you won’t be able to tell that the fair was ever here.’

The historic horse fair in the market town of Appleby-in-Westmorland in Cumbria is one of the biggest dates of the year for the travelling community.

It is billed as the biggest traditional gathering of travellers in Europe since originally starting as a place for travellers to buy and sell horses.

The fair has become more of a social event in recent years, although travellers still ride their horses and horse-drawn buggies up and down the main road in the town, and wash their animals in the River Eden.

Contractors working for Westmorland and Furness Council have been working round the clock clearing up the streets since before the fair officially started on Thursday.

The centre of Appleby appeared spotless by 8am this morning thanks to the efforts of street cleaning teams .

The horse fair’s so-called Multi Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group which runs the event praised ‘hard-working clean up crews’ for their ‘efforts in keeping the town clean.

In one sad incident on Sunday afternoon, witnessed an RSPCA officer carrying away a possibly abandoned or lost terrier dog from the main camping area called Fair Hill on the outskirts of Appleby.

The dog was taken to be examined by a veterinary staff in a gazebo tent beside the camping area after no sign of its owners was found, leading to fears it may have been dumped.

The RSPCA which has been busy checking on the welfare of horses at the fair has not yet responded to requests for comment about the dog. 

A spokeswoman for the Redwings horse charity who was co-ordinating communications for animal welfare organisations at the fair said that ‘a couple of dogs’ had been rescued at the event.

Speaking of the terrier-type dog recovered on Sunday afternoon, she added: ‘The dog was found at the fair and is in RSPCA care subject to an investigation.’

Most of the fields rented out by farmers as caravan sites for the duration of the fair had largely emptied by mid-morning, although rubbish bags and debris were left scattered around.

A tractor was pictured as the driver helped to pull out caravans and vehicles which had become embedded in mud, enabling them to get underway.

Retired engineer Richard Anderton, who allowed five caravans to set up camp on his one and a half acre field, said: ‘The travellers who were here departed around an hour ago, and they left my field immaculate.

‘They are a proper Romany family and I allow them to stay every year. They are a nice family and always tidy up properly. We met them when we first moved here 38-years-ago.

‘Give it three days, and all the fields around here will be back to normal. You wouldn’t know if anything had happened.’

A traveller woman who was waiting to depart to Newcastle said: ‘We have had a fantastic time. It is crazy that they keep saying it is a week-long event. Every year, it is all over by the end of Sunday.’

A pile of discarded hay, water buckets and stinking horse manure was left left this morning in the car park of the Appleby Manor Hotel and Spa which has been used by some fair visitors.

One shopkeeper in Appleby told : ‘The street cleaners will be able to tell you all sorts of horror stories about the things they find.

‘The rubbish is certainly an issue, but the street cleaners do a fantastic job. We have stayed open during the fair, but our takings are actually down because so many local residents leave. But it is what is.’

Police made arrests at the Appleby Horse Fair this year, after the RSPCA were obstructed from checking the health of horses.

Last week, it was revealed that a three-year-old stallion was ‘worked to death’ in an ‘inexcusable act of cruelty’ after it was found ‘covered in rub sores’ with a very high temperature.

It then emerged that Cumbria Police made two arrests on public order offences in the vicinity of the Midland Hotel.

The force said they were called to assist the RSPCA, who had ‘difficulty’ being allowed access to horses by ‘obstructive owners’. 

CCTV images have been released by the RSPCA as the hunt to identify a man in connection with the death of the horse continues.

Gypsy and traveller community leaders Billy Welch and Bill Lloyd said they were ‘sickened and saddened’ by the death of the young horse and ‘condemned it in the strongest possible terms’.

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