Call for Stow Fair to be cancelled due to rising Covid-19 cases
By Sarah Wood | 13th October 2020
The next travellers' horse fair in Stow-on-the-Wold is scheduled to take place on 22nd October, and with cases of Covid-19 rising across the UK, local Lib Dem councillors are calling for the event to be cancelled.
The fair rolls into Stow-on-the-Wold twice a year, bringing with it hundreds of visitors from across the UK.
Despite seeking assurances from Gloucestershire County Council and local police, councillors are still awaiting a decision as to whether organisers have been told to halt preparations or visitors warned to cancel travel plans.
The travelling community themselves took the decision to cancel the fair in May, but since then government guidelines have changed. This makes the decision whether or not to cancel the October fair more difficult.
Cllr Dilys Neill, district councillor for Stow, Maugersbury & the Swells, said: "Stow Fair is an important part of the tradition and culture of the travelling community, however, with cases of Covid-19 on the rise, an event bringing hundreds of people together from across the UK should, in my opinion, not go ahead.
"Despite this being on the horizon for many months, the county council and other agencies have failed to consult with the local community. Residents are angered by the lack of information and worried about the potential health risks, while local businesses, many of whom close during the fair, have been left without any notice on how to proceed.
"The fair is only nine days away, and it is now a matter of urgency for the county council to make a decision, otherwise there will be an influx of travellers from around the country starting within the next few days. I hope that the fair will be cancelled as it was in May, when the guidelines on Covid security were clearer. The travelling community as well as local residents need an answer as soon as possible."
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, county councillor for neighbouring Bourton on the Water and Northleach, said: "Hundreds of visitors to Stow Fair stay in the villages and towns neighbouring Stow-on-the-Wold - the majority bringing only economic benefits to our local communities.
"However, this time we are in the middle of a pandemic with all mass events being cancelled. Residents in Bourton feel there is a health risk associated with this and I agree with them.
"This event has not been sprung on local agencies, and I'm staggered this has not been cancelled sooner. This event should not be allowed to take place, and the county council must ensure that is communicated immediately."
A spokesperson on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council said: "Working with colleagues at Cotswold District Council, the police and other partners, we have now written to the organiser of Stow Fair, raising specific concerns. If these aren't addressed we will have no option but to use legal powers to cancel the event."
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