THE mayor of Appleby has admitted to ‘some anxieties’ as the town prepares for its annual horse fair.

Gareth Hayes said huge numbers were expected from the Gypsy and traveller community but, with the pandemic and the time of year, it was hard to predict how many tourists and visitors would be in the town to see the fair.

He said: “Anxieties remain, for all sorts of reasons, yet with the right weather, right attitude and due care in all corners, it will go ahead with celebration rather than conflict.”

For the safety of the public and those travelling to the fair in horse-drawn vehicles, a temporary emergency speed limit of 40mph has been imposed along the route to Appleby.

There are also temporary stopping points in South Lakeland for both traditional ‘bowtop’ caravans and motorised towed caravans at four locations on routes through South Lakeland to Appleby.

In fact there are up to 80 stopping points in all on the popular routes to the town.

Billy Welch, known as the Shera Rom or Head Gypsy, has been involved with the fair all his life and made a promise to his father to preserve it.

He added his warning to motorists: “This year, the fair is on a different date, due to Covid lockdown, and people from round the country will be making their way.

“I just want to urge people who are visiting to be aware that there will be horses on the roads pulling the bow tops.

“I want those on the roads to take extra care — you don’t know what is round the corner.

“As we get closer, the numbers will increase.

“Everyone is really excited for the fair to start, but I want to remind people from my community to not arrive too early and keep safe.””

This message comes as Cumbria police prepare their own message to remind people of the slow- moving vehicles that will be in the area.

Inspector for Eden, Pete Aiston, said: “People driving on the county’s roads over the next week – not just in Eden but across the county– are likely to come across slow-moving vehicles as we approach the Appleby Horse Fair date.

“Please drive with caution and, when passing, do so considerately so that everyone can arrive at their destination safely.

In April, the Appleby Horse Fair Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group met again to discuss plans for the 2021 Appleby Horse Fair.

An agreement was reached that MASCG would support the fair to take place from Thursday, August 12 – subject to any potential changes in Government regulations and recommendations around large events.

Mayor Mr Hayes said: “The preparation, under the auspices of MASCQ, has been and continues to be extraordinary.”