A TRADITION of galloping horses bareback down an historic high street as part of an annual fair is to go ahead – despite health and safety fears.

The Flashing of the Horses event, part of Yarm Fair, was going to be cancelled by town councillors as they were concerned about public liability if anything went wrong.

The centuries-old event involves racing and trotting horses up and down the main street and dates back to the time when Yarm Fair was a livestock trading event.

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This came in the wake of a large swathe of Yarm Gala being cancelled in the summer after the Independent Safety Advisory Group (ISAG) raised health and safety concerns.

But Jason Hadlow, chair of recreation on Yarm Town Council, said: "Following the cancellation of Yarm Gala the issue of the health and safety related to the fair became a considerable cause of concern to Yarm Town Council.

"One of the items I highlighted... was the 'Flashing' of the horses which we as a council felt we could not hold safely.

"Yarm Town Council does not own the highway and as such hold no insurance nor control over events held on it."

However he 'welcomed' the intervention of Stockton Borough Council, which had discussions with the police and sanctioned the event.

Mr Hadlow added: "We understand our borough council is proposing to barricade the end of the high street, allowing the travellers to join the Ridings and thus complete our fair.

"Stockton has done everything it can to ensure the safe delivery of the fair, generously arranging a number of meetings and freeing up resource to ensure we have a complete and robust plan for its delivery.

"Now, we can really look forward to our annual Fair and the history of heritage and tradition that it brings."

A spokesperson for Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, said: “We are always happy to provide advice and support to organisations who want to put events on in the Borough.

"Of course, as the organiser of the fair, it is for Yarm Town Council to decide which elements of the event go ahead.”

The fair dates back to the 13th Century when King John granted the original charter.