Scores of gypsies and travellers descended on Appleby this weekend despite the June horse fair being cancelled.
Their appearance appeared to confirm local residents’ fears that the rescheduling of the horse fair to August will mean Appleby is an unwilling host to not one but two horse fairs this year.
Visitors lined the banks of the River Eden in Appleby town centre as horses and sulkies were driven down Battlebarrow and stood tied along the Sands.
Cumbria police attended, with officers stationed at regular points from Long Marton Road at Clickham down into the town centre.
But Cumbria Constabulary has come under fire from residents who questioned why the unplanned visitors were not being moved on or social distancing enforced.
A spokesman for Cumbria Constabulary said: “This weekend is the traditional date for Appleby Horse Fair.
“However, an announcement was made in April urging people not to come in June.
“Those planning their traditional, annual, Horse Fair visit were asked to stay away and make plans for later in the summer.
“We are grateful to those who have heeded this message.
“However, a number of people have arrived in and around Appleby today.
“Whilst there are no coronavirus regulations preventing people from travelling to different areas of the country and everyone is currently free to travel where they please domestically for a holiday or day-trip, there are Government restrictions on gatherings of more than 30 people.
“These restrictions remain in place on public health grounds.
“As such, people continue to be urged not to travel to Appleby this weekend.
“In expectation of the possibility of people travelling to Appleby this weekend, there is currently a significant police resource in the area today.
“Whilst there are no laws mandating social distancing of individuals, officers will act where groups gather together in excess of 30 people, in contravention of public health regulations.
“In line with the constabulary’s approach to policing coronavirus regulations for everyone throughout the pandemic, this will be following the four Es approach – explain, engage, encourage before turning to enforcement.”