Calls for horse fair to be axed

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EASINGTON MP Grahame Morris wants the controversial Horden Horse Fair to be scrapped, claiming travellers think they are “above the law”.

Risking criticism by coming out with such a bold statement, Mr Morris made the call to respond to the needs of East Durham residents.

He said the annual event had caused “disruption and anxiety” to locals.

The Labour MP has also blasted Peterlee Police for what he claims is a failure to take action against travellers racing on local roads.

Mr Morris said: “I fully back my constituents’ efforts to end the annual blight of Horden Horse Fair, which is neither licensed by the local authority nor supported by local residents.

“The views of Horden residents must be respected when deciding how to deal with unlicensed events, and I hope this year’s horse fair will be the last.”

Mr Morris said he had received numerous complaints about the event and added: “Travellers feel they are above the law.”

Mr Morris also criticised police for their handling of reported cases of racing on local roads and alleged mistreatment of animals.

“I’m in no doubt if a motorist behaved in this manner they would be prosecuted for dangerous driving,” he added.

Inspector Dave Coxon, of Peterle Police, said: “This is not a police-led event, but we have got a duty to work within the local community to prevent crime and disorder and minimise disruption as effectively as possible. It’s the responsibility of the organisers in conjunction with Durham County Council to consult with the local community and plan for the event.

“We will continue to provide advice and guidance to the council in relation to policing.”

Colette Longbottom, the council’s head of legal and democratic services, said the council’s range of powers to address community issues, “must be used sensibly and in partnership with our communities and other agencies including the police”.

Ms Longbottom added: “It is often better to approach situations with a robust multi-agency management plan which minimises disruption to local people than to take an approach which may well simply move the issue elsewhere or appear heavy-handed to others.”

Travellers’ spokesman Eddie Richardson said: “I don’t know how many people complained, but obviously you can’t please everyone.”