FEARS an annual horse fair could be relocated to a quiet residential area have been eased after the council confirmed it would not support the event in that location.

Today (Tuesday, August 8), more than 60 residents protested in front of a field at Helmington Row, near Crook, which was being considered as a potential new venue for a travellers' horse fair.

The fair has previously been held at Blackhall, Horden and Seaham to the east of the county on the August Bank Holiday weekend.

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News that the Durham County Council had been discussing alternative sites with the event organiser sparked concern in some communities.

And, last month, when the organiser's wife confirmed the fair would take place at Helmington Row on Facebook, residents were convinced a decision had been made without consulting them.

Noise, anti-social behaviour, mess and road safety were among the issues raised, with North West Durham MP, Pat Glass, and local councillors, Eddie Tomlinson and Andrea Patterson, vowing to stand up for the residents.

Ms Glass said: “The people of Helmington Row and Crook do not want this horse fair with its associated problems to come to them but equally I don't want to see this simply moved to another part of my constituency or indeed to some other community in someone else's constituency.

“The County Council should deal with people's objections rather than merely moving the problems around the county.”

Last week, Durham County Council assured the community that no decision had been made regarding the site, stating that the council had been exploring alternative venues to address concerns raised in previous years.

Following a meeting this afternoon (Tuesday, August 8), Oliver Sherratt, head of direct services at Durham County Council, said: “I can confirm that following assessment of all issues we will not be supporting the use of the Helmington Row field as a venue for the Bank Holiday horse fair.

“We have informed the event organiser of our position.”

David Parker, who lives opposite the site at High Jobs Hill, said: “This is tremendous news. We are very relieved. Our only concern is that the travellers will come anyway and we would like to know what will be done to prevent this.”

Alternative venues for the event have not been confirmed.