Gypsies arriving for the Appleby Horse Fair clash with locals

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Travelers from across the UK started returning to the Appleby Horse Fair today, sparking a tense showdown with locals from a nearby market town.

Visitors from the Gypsy, Roma and Itinerant Community (GRT) start arriving for the 250-year-old event in Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, today after the fair was canceled last year due to Covid-19.

But when one of their established overnight camps was sprayed with cow manure and chopped up with rocks, the travelers decided to move to the neighboring Upper Eden Rugby Club, prompting a confrontation with club management. .

Residents said threats were made against them as travelers blocked the road during a “dead end”.

Members of the Gypsy, Roma and Homeless (GRT) community start arriving for the Appleby Horse Fair in Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria

The travelers decided to set up camp at the nearby Upper Eden Rugby Club when one of their established overnight camps was sprayed with cow manure and separated with rocks.

The travelers decided to set up camp at the nearby Upper Eden Rugby Club when one of their established overnight camps was sprayed with cow manure and separated with rocks.

They also said they remained furious when the police told them that they could not shut down the door to prevent more travelers from passing – in case those already entering the site need to leave in an emergency.

The gypsies said they were victimized and forced to leave the site for no reason, wondering why the remote place they planned to stay was covered in manure.

A mainstay of the rugby club, who asked not to be named, posted a statement on the club’s social media.

He said: “Yesterday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. I was contacted by COVID testing staff to inform me that we had travelers rushing to the rugby club.

“I immediately went to the club and asked for the support of other club members… there were 2 police officers there.

“The COVID testing staff left the site and we closed and padlocked the door, at this point we were faced with a large number of travelers and a deadlock ensued.

“There were a large number of vehicles and caravans blocking the road.

“We requested that the travelers in the Club parking lot be evacuated and returned, the police informed us that this was a civil matter and that they did not have the power to move the travelers.

“We were told we had to seek a court order to deport the travelers. We were also advised not to lock the door as travelers on club premises may need to exit in an emergency or similar situation.

“The travelers gave us their word that they would be leaving the club today, I can confirm that they offered us money to stay.

“It was refused and we received no money. The police reassured us that they would make regular visits to the Club to monitor the situation.

“We held our monthly Exec meeting last night (Monday) at the Club and there was a heavy police presence, the police issued the travelers with a dispersal order meaning they have to leave the club today. hui or their vehicle will be seized and removed.

“To say that we are not happy with the situation is an understatement as we are a community club and we care about our neighbors, residents and businesses in Kirkby Stephen.”

One resident said: “It was a frightening and intimidating situation to have a camp suddenly set up right in the middle of the community.

“And to make matters worse, the rugby club were told they couldn’t lock the door in case one of them wanted to leave. This is madness.

Some pubs and businesses in the city have chosen to close their doors until the end of the horse fair.

But a traveler, Pauline Foster, who was part of the group, said they “didn’t do any harm” and that the only reason they had moved to the rugby club was because the site they stayed at for years was stained with cow manure. .

Pauline Foster (pictured) said she and the other travelers

Pauline Foster (pictured) said she and the other travelers were “doing no harm” and camped out at the rugby club because their established site was sprayed with cow manure

Members of the travel community said they were victimized and forced to leave the site for no reason.  Pictured: Visitors from the Gypsy, Roma and Itinerant Community (GRT) at the neighboring Upper Eden Rugby Club

Members of the travel community said they were victimized and forced to leave the site for no reason. Pictured: Visitors from the Gypsy, Roma and Itinerant Community (GRT) at the neighboring Upper Eden Rugby Club

Travelers started arriving in Kirkby Stephen the weekend before the fair, which attracts around 10,000 gypsies and 30,000 visitors

Travelers started arriving in Kirkby Stephen the weekend before the fair, which attracts around 10,000 gypsies and 30,000 visitors

The 69-year-old said: “Four or five police vans were called and we warned that we would be evicted quickly.

“They took pictures of all of our trailers and vehicles and said if we didn’t move we would be charged and if we didn’t pay for it they would follow us to Appleby to get it for us.

“We weren’t doing any harm. The fair starts on Thursday, so we would have moved quickly to Appleby.

“The only reason we came here is because the site we have been on for years and years was stained with cow manure and cut with rocks by a farmer.

“It’s outside the village of Nateby in the middle of nowhere and the Travelers don’t hurt there.

“The discrimination and harassment we face is getting worse and if it was another race or culture there would be an outcry, but because this is our community people are letting it go.”

Police were there to make sure travelers left without further disruption before 3 p.m. today, as required by the eviction notice.

An officer told Mailonline: “They are moving without incident and we have found them elsewhere to stay.”

Although Appleby himself remained calm, an influx of travelers arrived in Kirkby Stephen the weekend before the fair, which attracts around 10,000 gypsies and 30,000 visitors.

Police arrive at the scene of the Upper Eden Rugby Club after clashes between residents and members of the traveling community

Police arrive at the scene of the Upper Eden Rugby Club after clashes between residents and members of the traveling community

Dozens of caravans and mobile homes were parked along the roads leading into the city and horses were tied to graze on the shoulders as the trucks rumbled a few inches on the main road between the Trans-Pennine A66 road and the M6 motorway.

Long lines of traffic pulled away as young people driving cars pulled by ponies ascended and descended the A685.

A local businessman said: “It’s like we had a year of peace before it all started all over again with vengeance.

“While Appleby receives all the visitors and the revenue from them, we only have disruptions and so many issues that some businesses choose to shut down.”

Travelers denied that anyone was intimidating.


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