Gypsies and Travellers raise £24K towards Appleby Town toilets and clean-up

1 June 2023
Appleby Town

Gypsies and Travellers have come together to raise £24,000 to go towards temporary public toilets and clean-up operations in Appleby Town during the famous Appleby Horse Fair over the next four years.

Following discussions with Appleby Fair Gypsy and Traveller representatives, the money was donated by the Institute for Sustainable Organic Reform, a registered charity and Community Interest Company, that has donated money towards Gypsy and Traveller projects in the past.

“This is an unprecedented development for the public benefit, planned in consultation with the relevant Councils. In addition to improving the facilities for visitors and sightseers,” said Appleby Fair Traveller representative Bill Lloyd.

“This significant financial contribution demonstrates that, contrary to frequent false characterisation, the Gypsy and Traveller community are aware of the demands on the public purse, and they are collaborating closely with them to help find practical solutions to problems which arise,” he added.

Councils involved with the clean up of Appleby town have already been given a big lump sum of the money.

The costs for the clean up after the fair of Fair Hill – the original Gypsy and Traveller camping place, leased from Appleby Town Council by Billy Welch for the duration of the fair and its build-up - is already covered entirely by Gypsy and Traveller people.

Billy Welch and brother-in-law Henry help to clear up Fair Hill - all costs covered entirely by Gypsies and Travellers (c) Mike Glover

Other, more recent, Appleby camping sites are also cleaned up by their lessee’s or landowners.

However, Appleby town itself is a public place and has come under strain as the fair has become more and more popular and, according to Gypsy and Traveller representatives, now attracts tens of thousands of tourists and sight-seers keen to experience the fair themselves.

The full statement from Appleby Fair Traveller Representative Bill Lloyd:

“Adequate sanitation provision has been a significant concern of local residents during the annual horse Fair. Last year, 2022, the problem was made worse by the closure of several pubs, and there will be fewer licensed premises open in 2023. The cost of energy, licensing requirements for stewarding etc. and the economic climate made it increasingly difficult for some pubs to remain viable. “When a pub closes their doors, they also close their toilets to the public, and there is a danger that the possible shortage of toilets in 2023 might lead to insanitary conditions in the town. Gypsy and Traveller Representatives have been in discussion with an equality and diversity charity, which has generously agreed to provide the necessary finance for additional toilets and cleaning for the next 3-4 years. “

“There are seven licenced campsites accommodating visitors to the Fair, and they provide their own toilets in line with the conditions of their planning consents, but the town centre is a public space. It is the focus for many thousands of visitors and tourists, the majority of whom are not Gypsies or horse traders, but who come for a free day out to see this the unique spectacle and major tourist attraction.”

“Eden District Council and Appleby Town Council currently provide about 40 extra toilets in the public areas, together with twice daily cleaning, at public expense, and the Gypsy and Traveller Representatives recognise that the cost to the public purse is significant. Although they have no obligation to do so, and they will not benefit from these funds in any way, they have raised £24,000 from charitable donations, to be spread over four years, to provide extra toilets and extra cleaning, wherever they may be needed, in the public interest. The first tranche of £10,000 has now been paid to Westmorland and Furness Council and Appleby Town Council.”

Mike Doherty/TT News

(Lead photo © Bela Varadi)