Hampshire crime commissioner warns it's 'not good enough' that 'traveller community ignored' Wickham Horse Fair cancellation

THE crime commissioner has said it is ‘not good enough’ that the ‘gypsy, Romany and traveller community ignored’ Wickham Horse Fair being cancelled.

By Ben Fishwick
Thursday, 20th May 2021, 4:46 pm

Crowds gathered today in Wickham for the annual event despite its cancellation due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Last year’s event was also postponed but few people attended.

This year has seen a large police presence, large crowds and horses present in the village, forcing the closure of the A32, pubs and businesses.

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Crowds of travellers defied police today by turning up for an historic horse fair in Wickham which had been cancelled. Picture: Roger Arbon/Solent News & Photo Agency

Ms Jones said: ‘I am extremely disappointed the Wickham Horse Fair has gone ahead and the GRT community have ignored the communication that this event has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

‘This is another blow for local businesses who have already been closed for months and it has had a significant impact on the local community. It is not good enough.

‘I have been briefed by Hampshire Constabulary senior officers and will continue my discussions with the chief constable on this matter.’

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Among the pubs to close on police ‘intelligence’ was the Hampshire Bowman in Bishop’s Waltham.

Members of the traveller community said it was ‘unfair’ the annual event steeped in history was not formally going ahead.

One woman told The News it felt like the police were containing the attendees, in a lay-by, ‘out of spite’ because many attendees are travellers.

People with horses were not allowed to parade them in The Square.

Bernice Wall, from John Wall & Son Fun Fairs, helps organise the market stalls each year but said the decision to cancel – made in March – was right.

She told The News: ‘We’re a business so of course we’ve lost out big time by not going.

‘But of course we’ve in unprecedented times and there is still the threat of this variant.

‘I do think the police did it to try and protect people and that’s exactly what the did it for.

‘I don’t think they’ve got anything against the fair at all, and when it’s run it’s run extremely well and efficiently.’

She added: ‘I’m looking forward to next year’s fair and everything being back to normal and that’s where our focus is – on the 2022 event.

‘I’m sure it’ll be back to the normal standard and everyone will come and have a good time.’

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