EMNETH: Villagers warned to batten down hatches as travellers horse fair arrrives
By MAGGIE GIBSON POLICE have warned horrified villagers to batten down the hatches this weekend when a horse fair comes to Emneth. Some residents are threatening to withhold their council tax and say they could resort to blocking off roads near their home
By MAGGIE GIBSON
POLICE have warned horrified villagers to batten down the hatches this weekend when a horse fair comes to Emneth.
Some residents are threatening to withhold their council tax and say they could resort to blocking off roads near their homes.
Landowner Ernie Peachey who is renting out his seven acre field for Sunday's event says the "whole thing has been blown out of proportion". He said: "It is a quiet sleepy little village and they just don't want waking up."
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Mr Peachey, who has permission to hold 16 events a year on the field in Outwell Road, claims residents are being their own worst enemies by alerting everyone to the fair. He said: "There are supposed to have been between 100 and 150 people here at most - now people will come from far and wide just to see what is going on."
Travellers from all over the area are expected at the event to buy and sell horses but Mr Peachey denied the event was a replacement for the Watton horse fair. He said that fair is being held at Mildenhall and Sunday's event is a one-off.
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Resident Dawn Robinson said: "I don't think he realises how many enemies he is making or perhaps he just doesn't care. Police told us that if it is not nailed down it won't be there when they have gone. I am a law abiding rate payer and I don't feel as if I have any rights at all. One man is upsetting so many people just because he can - I feel threatened and vulnerable in my own home."
Another resident said: "I was told by police that the main problems to expect are anti-social behaviour, mess and human excrement. The police were very negative about it all and I was not assured at all by what they said. They said there absolutely nothing we can do to stop it.
Villagers say they have no problems with the permanent traveller site near their homes and are worried not just about Sunday's event but future use of the field. One resident said: "We are more than happy with the relationship we have with the Travellers, our concern is that these people will come from outside the area and all the people the event will attract."
On Monday Mr Peachey had a meeting at this home with the police, fire service, RSPCA and Travellers' representatives.
He said: "It is going to be manned by police and there will be police in the village. Everything is above board and the organisers have said there will be people coming in to clear up afterwards. I have been told that businesses are shutting up and that is just stupid.
"I am reviving the horse fair which used to be held in Wisbech. People were glad enough to come along to the car boots we used to have here. All I am saying is give the Travellers a chance. Live and let live, everyone is equal as far as I am concerned."
West Norfolk Borough Councillor Harry Humphrey said he could understand the fears felt by villagers.
He said: "I absolutely and totally understand their feelings but Mr Peachey does not require a licence to hold the event. The police will use whatever resources are necessary to control the situation but if residents block off the roads then they will be breaking the law."
Norfolk Police said it had been working with Mr Peachey and other agencies to understand the impact the event would have on the village and to resolve any issued which might arise from it.
Superintendent Nick Davison said: "Horse fairs are an important aspect of the travelling community tradition and are also attended by members of the local 'settled' community. It is important that all communities respect each other and work together to ensure that this event has a positive outcome."
Residents are fearful of what Sunday's event could mean for their normally peaceful village. 1404PU049
The seven-acre field which will be the venue for the horse fair. 4141BP49