Wellingborough Horse Fair returns to Great Doddington site

The event took place last year amid some community concerns but passed off peacefully

By Alison Bagley
Saturday, 17th July 2021, 7:06 am

A Wellingborough horse fair that controversially went ahead amid Covid concerns last year will return to the county at the end of the month.

DJ Lady and QD's Horse Fair is due to begin on Friday, July 23 with weekend-long event in Hardwater Road between Great Doddington and Wollaston promising food, stalls, a beer tent, disco and a hog roast finishing on the Monday.

A briefing note sent to the council executive and ward, Wellingborough Town Council and local parish council members told them that '50 to 60 caravans and approximately 150 people' are expected to attend.

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A flyer for the event

Last year a similar event was held at the same venue under different Covid restrictions, and this year's will take place after the current coronavirus restrictions are due to be lifted.

The document states: "A Temporary Event Notice has been applied for to cover licensable activities at the site and there are no other significant concerns arising from the event plans.

"Officers will continue to liaise with the organiser up to, and over the weekend of the event.

"Whilst there may be public concern raised in advance of the event, we can confirm that last year’s event took place with no significant issues arising."

It has been described as a privately organised event for the travelling community, with majority of guests arriving on site on Friday, July 23, leaving on the Monday.

North Northants Council (NNC) officers have been liaising with the event organiser and supporting them to ensure the event is compliant with all safety and legal obligations.

A multi-agency Safety Advisory Group meeting was also held on July 9 with all key partner agencies - Police, Fire, Ambulance, Joint Operations Team, Emergency Planning and NNC officers in attendance to discuss the event plans.

In another briefing, NNC officers reassured local representatives about security, litter and horses on the public roads.

NNC officers have liaised with Wellingborough Norse and asked that they review all security measures in place at open spaces and parks in advance of the event to ensure that they remain as secure as possible.

Summer Leys Nature Reserve managed by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire WildlifeTrust will secure their site.

The event organiser has previously confirmed that there are no plans for trotting and racing on the public highway, and all of the events are to be confined to the site.

A Temporary Event Notice (TEN) for the event - to allow a 'licensable activity' on unlicensed premises - covers the total number of attendees expected for the event.

Organisers have said that they are aware of the requirement for secure storage and disposal of all waste generated by the event with Wellingborough Norse on hand to deal with any potential littering or build up of rubbish on or near the site.

Last summer, Northants Police were given short notice of the first event that took place on the private land in Hardwater Road.

Northants Police said that fears of disorder were unfounded last year as the event passed off peacefully.

The breifing note, seen by our reporters, state that the council’s social media accounts have been directed to include details of how to contact the council out of hours, without referencing the event, so that residents or businesses can raise legitimate concerns over the weekend.

Meanwhile, minutes of a debriefing meeting last September, revealed under the Freedom of Information Act, between council officials, local councillors, Northants Police and Public Health revealed the concerns shown in the days after the first horse fair.

Superintendent Dennis Murray had headed 'Operation Bailey' - the name given to the policing operation of the bank holiday event.

He had said: "This year (2020) compared with last year (2019) there is no higher crime rate"

At the time of last year's event Councillor Martin Griffiths then leader of Wellingborough Council had voiced his concerns and passed on fears on behalf of residents worried about the spread of Covid after videos shared on Facebook showed the event with no social distancing described as a 'hell of a party'.

He said: "I think anybody that would have seen the clips that were put onto Facebook and social media will see that there was a hell of a party there, certainly on the Saturday night and then again, it possibly went over into the Sunday night. Nobody has mentioned really about the Covid situation and the fears that I mentioned about local residents and businesses was again around where we are in regards to Covid and the fear of the transmission of this dreadful disease."

Northants Police Superintendent Adam Ward had reported that the force's control room received a smaller volume of calls that usual but that the 'hit rate in relation to our social media was very, very high'. Adding that 'most of that social media was directed towards discriminatory comments towards travellers as opposed to concerns about Covid'.

Mr Murray had concluded saying: "I think there is a different way we can do this, knowing that this kind of event is going to happen again there a less policing, less intense resources we could do."

NNC said that council officers would continue to liaise with the organiser up to, and over the weekend of the event.