Review as Stow Gypsy horse fair gets 'out of hand'
STOW Horse Fair is set for a major review.
Following Thursday's gypsy gathering, Cotswold District Council will scrutinise the way it is managed and regulated.
The in-depth review of the controversial twice-yearly event comes after a joint call from the Silver community group and a new body – the multi-agency event safety advisory group (ESAG).
ESAG was set up last year by the district council to work with organisers to ensure events are safe for those attending and those affected.
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The Silver group comprises members from the community including Stow and Maugersbury Action Group (SMAG), Stow town councillors, Maugersbury parish councillors, district and county councillors and police.
SMAG member Jenni Turner said: "It's a wonderful event historically but it's not a traditional fair any more.
"It's got out of hand and does need proper management. At the moment it's not a nice environment to be in.
"Too many people are around for too long without proper accommodation and there is too much public fouling.
"With proper management, it could be a very interesting, fascinating event on our doorstep."
SMAG is currently circulating its aims again to underline its stance.
"We're not some nasty back-street organisation determined to stop gypsies having fun," she said. "Our aim is to manage the amount of time fair-goers are in the area and how they behave when they're here so the gypsies, visitors and residents have a really enjoyable time."
Stow businesses shut up shop during fair week as they fear intimidation and shoplifting and regular customers stay away.
An estimated 74 out of 135 businesses closed last October.
SMAG will conduct a "non-biased" questionnaire asking how they are affected in the run-up, during and post-fair.
The results will go to the new review.
ESAG, which has also been working with fair organisers, is made up of members from the police, county council highways department, fire and rescue, county council trading standards, district council public protection service and legal services as well as the ambulance service.
A district council spokesman said: "This review of Stow Horse Fair aims to influence the approach to be taken by the various agencies for the future and to ensure any actions taken are lawful, equitable, proportionate and necessary."