£6,000 cost of horse fair

People taking part in Horden Horse Fair
People taking part in Horden Horse Fair

IT cost a local authority almost £6,000 to provide resources for this year’s Horden Horse Fair, the Hartlepool Mail can reveal.

Durham County Council spent £5,913.50 covering this year’s controversial event.

Easington MP Grahame Morris, who previously called for the annual event to be scrapped, said the travellers “think someone else will pick up the tab”.

But council chiefs say the measures taken were the most cost-effective – and in line with Government guidance.

And traveller spokesman Eddie Richardson said he was surprised by the figures, saying: “I cleaned up before and after the fair.”

He said he had provided half of the toilets, but accepted the authority’s offer of more.

Following a Freedom of Information request by the Mail, the authority confirmed the costs and how they were broken down.

This included cleaning costs across the three-day fair, with £1,185 on a refuse truck and driver, £870 on a heavy goods sweeper and driver, £870 on a street cleansing vehicle, driver and operative, £1,115.70 on overtime for Neighbourhood Wardens and an additional £472.80 for wardens’ work carried out in their core time.

The authority also spent £1,400 on portable toilet hire for the event.

Last year’s horse fair cost the council £4,499.60, compared to £5,514 in 2010 and £3,544.60 in 2009.

This spending comes from Durham County Council’s overall budget, with less than half of that coming from taxpayers.

Mr Morris said: “The travellers don’t have any regard for the wishes of the community.

“They just do it anywhere, thinking someone else is going to pick up the tab.

“Why should people put up with it – they make no contribution at all.”

But Scott McInally, the county council’s inclusion manager, said: “The measures we take in regard to the horse fair are in line with Government guidance and present the most cost-effective way of dealing with the event while also minimising disruption to residents.

“Without the council’s involvement, the event would still go ahead either at Horden or in another location.

“If we did not anticipate what measures may be needed or provide warden cover, toilet facilities and clean-ups during the event, the cost to the council would be significantly higher and there would be a risk to public health.”

Durham Constabulary said it was unable to easily calculate the costs of policing the event as this falls within the general policing category, but 424 police hours were spent covering the event.