News, Culture & Society

Hundreds of travellers descend on village for annual horse fair

Hundreds of travellers have descended on a village for a gypsy horse fair despite calls for it to be scrapped over coronavirus fears.

Dozens of caravans and vehicles could be seen packed onto a field for the Wellingborough Horse Fair near Wollaston, Northamptonshire, on Saturday, as footage emerged of revellers dancing together.

Around 200 people are expected at the event over the bank holiday weekend despite it being against the law to hold gatherings of more than 30 people.

The horse fair has been allowed to go ahead in spite of calls for it be shut down over fears of the spread of Covid-19 and the county being on the verge of local lockdown.

Hundreds of travellers crowded to Wollaston, Northamptonshire, for the annual horse fair despite coronavirus fears

They have been seen gathered together with no apparent regard for social distancing and failing to use face masks

They have been seen gathered together with no apparent regard for social distancing and failing to use face masks

Above are a group enjoying the annual horse fair in the field. Local businesses have closed due to the risk

Above are a group enjoying the annual horse fair in the field. Local businesses have closed due to the risk

Locals have raised concerns about coronavirus infections being brought to the area by the show

Locals have raised concerns about coronavirus infections being brought to the area by the show

Businesses and pubs in nearby villages have closed their doors while hundreds of travellers enjoy themselves at the site – which features a beer tent, food and disco.

Police said there had been no reports of any crimes – but footage has emerged on social media appearing to show dancing punters crammed into a tent ‘like sardines’.

One local resident, who did not want to be named, said: ‘We cannot believe this event has been allowed to go ahead.

‘Police have said there have been no incidents and the whole event doesn’t breach COVID regulations.

‘Yet they have the bare-faced cheek to broadcast a video live on Facebook of them crammed in like sardines while police were supposedly patrolling the area.

‘This comes at a time when you can’t have more than 30 people at a wedding and only a handful at funerals, and police are breaking up parties in people’s back gardens.

‘It seems like one rule for us and not for them. Its completely outrageous.’

Police have told residents that the whole event doesn't breach coronavirus restrictions (pictured above)

Police have told residents that the whole event doesn’t breach coronavirus restrictions (pictured above)

The travellers have crowded together into a field to enjoy the horse fair. Video online shows them dancing close together

The travellers have crowded together into a field to enjoy the horse fair. Video online shows them dancing close together

Extravagant Travellers Events shared a video on Facebook, which read: ‘Wellingborough horsefair yesterday. We rocked out the tent last night. Roll on Part 2 tonight.’

The footage shows hundreds of people standing shoulder-to-shoulder inside a tent while dancing to music and drinking beer.

Yet police have said there have been no reports of crime or disorder and that the organisers of DJ Lady and QD’s Horse Fair continued to ‘engage positively with authorities’.

A force spokesperson said: ‘Northamptonshire Police, Northamptonshire County Council Public Health and Wellingborough Borough Council continue to work closely with the organisers of the horse fair event this Bank Holiday weekend.

‘Between 50 and 80 caravans and cars, with about 200 people, are now on the 10-acre, privately owned field.

‘A joint visit to the site was undertaken this afternoon by officials, to assess compliance with regulations to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

‘Public health officials have reviewed the site and measures are in place. They have assessed the risk of risk of spread of the virus at this event remains low.

‘The organiser, who continues to engage positively with the authorities, has indicated there are unlikely to be many more people arriving at the site at this time.

The caravans and cars are all shown parked up together for the fair where horses are shown off and exchanged

The caravans and cars are all shown parked up together for the fair where horses are shown off and exchanged

'The appropriate agency will enforce Covid-19 regulations where necessary. No incidents of crime, disorder or road disruption at the event site have been reported so far,' a spokesman for Northamptonshire police said

‘The appropriate agency will enforce Covid-19 regulations where necessary. No incidents of crime, disorder or road disruption at the event site have been reported so far,’ a spokesman for Northamptonshire police said 

‘Partner agencies, who remain very concerned by the heightened levels of infection in some parts of Northamptonshire, will continue to monitor numbers and activity at the site, and will continue to work with the organiser to ensure the risk of infection is minimised.

‘The appropriate agency will enforce Covid-19 regulations where necessary. No incidents of crime, disorder or road disruption at the event site have been reported so far.

‘Northamptonshire Police will continue to respond to deter and deal with offending, either at the event or elsewhere in the local area, and additional officers are on duty throughout the Bank Holiday weekend across the county.’

Earlier in the week, a Tory MP called for the horse fair to be cancelled – saying it was ‘totally irresponsible’ for it go ahead.

Peter Bone, the MP for Wellingborough said the gathering should not go ahead at a time when the county has heightened Covid 19 restrictions in place.

He said: ‘It seems to me that it is very irresponsible to hold this horse fair while we have additional Covid restrictions.

‘I would encourage people not to attend the event if it goes ahead. For many weeks I have been working with the police, the Borough Council of Wellingborough and other agencies to try and stop the event from taking place.

‘I myself have visited the site and in my opinion such a large event happening in the middle of the pandemic, when there is additional local restrictions is unacceptable.’

Peter Bone, the MP for Wellingborough said the gathering should not go ahead at a time when the county has heightened Covid 19 restrictions in place. Pictured above is the event

Peter Bone, the MP for Wellingborough said the gathering should not go ahead at a time when the county has heightened Covid 19 restrictions in place. Pictured above is the event

Superintendent Adam Ward said ahead of the event: ‘The police have no powers to ban any such event under Covid legislation and we are working with other agencies who have a wider role and greater powers in relation to the legislation.

‘Together with these agencies, we are continuing to work with the organiser of the horse fair to ensure they plan and run the event safely, lawfully and in a way which minimises the spread of the virus.

‘A whole range of other public events, including music events and food and beer fairs have and continue to take place across the county, where organisers work with the authorities to ensure the public are kept safe and the events comply with Covid legislation and guidance.

‘The horse fair is one such event. We remain very concerned that public events present a risk of the infection spreading and, if necessary, the police and our partner agencies will work together to enforce Covid laws and regulations where they are not complied with.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk