TRAVELLERS at the Appleby Horse Fair washed their horses in the River Eden today – as Cumbria\’s police chief accused them of being a \”problem\”.
As thousands of gypsies gathered for the penultimate day of the annual event, Peter McCall told residents: \”If I could stop it, trust me, I would.\”
The yearly fair, in the Westmorland area of Cumbria, attracts around 10,000 travellers every year.
In addition, around 30,000 visitors descend on the small market town for the unique event that runs until Sunday.
Mr McCall claimed the travellers were a nuisance when he addressed fed-up residents in nearby town Kirkby Stephen at a surgery.
He said: “We would all like to just be rid of the problem but my view is that we have got to manage it the best we can.
“What we don\’t want is pitched battles in our street.”
Marion Birbeck, who lives close to a school in Kirkby Stephen, said police did nothing when travellers pitched up on her land.
She said: “They were in the field racing around, they had broken our padlocks, they had smashed the fence.”
Pub landlord John Alexander added: “People are not reporting crimes because when the gypsy communities are involved we really believe the police won\’t do anything about it anyway, so why bother ringing?\”
Paramedics also treated a teenage boy who was knocked out after falling off his horse.
Distressing images from the fair showed the woman lying in the road having been hit by a racing horse and carriage. She was left with blood coming from her eye following the nasty collision.
A witness told the Sun Online: “There’s a stretch of road that travellers use to race their horse and carriages.
“There were about 15 of them racing up and down the road and they can go really fast.
“One lad was going as quick as the horse could go and went past me about 10 times.
\”The horse was slipping on the tarmac and was really struggling. He flew past me and then I heard this big noise.”
He added: “It looked like a girl had tried to cross the road and she’d been hit and was knocked unconscious.
\”She was knocked out cold. She had a head injury and had been cut above her right eye and there was blood coming from it.
“The lad stopped for a second before legging it.”
A spokesman for North West Ambulance Service told the Sun Online: “We were called at 12.33pm today to reports of a collision between a person and a horse. The female was taken to Cumberland Infirmary.”
They said they couldn’t provide any more details about her injuries.
A spokesman for Cumbria Police said the woman suffered a suspected concussion but has since been released from hospital.
Earlier in the day a teenager fell from his horse.
The witness said: “He was coming down the road on the tarmac and the horse lost its footing and he fell off.
\”He was knocked unconscious as well.”
Other pictures from the fair showed scuffles breaking out between groups of men, with police called to separate them.
The fair is a chance for travellers to buy and sell horses.
The sellers race and ride their horses up and down the main road to allow prospective buyers to assess their form and fitness.
Many of the horses are washed in the River Eden for a wash and groom in preparation for their sale.
Appleby Horse Fair is also a chance for travellers to swap notes about life on the road.