A TOWN council has blamed “terrorism” concerns for a decision which will prevent residents from driving to and from their homes during an annual fair, which has left some feeling "prisoners in their own homes".

New safety advice for Yarm Fair means that no vehicles will be allowed to drive through road closures whilst the event is in operation.

In previous years, residents had been able to obtain a parking permit allowing them access to their properties despite the road closures.

But updated safety advice means it is “no longer acceptable practice” to allow any vehicles into crowded event spaces.

Peter Mock, chairman of Yarm Town Council, said there was “nothing they could do” about the decision.

“It has to be done and we have no choice. If we said we didn’t want it to happen, it would stop the fair going ahead all together.

“It is not allowed because people are worried about terrorism – everyone is conscious about the terrorism threat.

“Some people might think it has gone too far, but it is a safety issue and we have to accept it.

“Everyone accepts it is normal for events now, they need that extra security to stop cars driving into crowds. There will be similar methods in place for our First World War centenary celebrations.”

One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “It seems way over the top. We live there and it is almost like they want to make us prisoners in our own homes. Don’t get me wrong, everyone understands that in the modern world safety concerns need to be taken seriously, and we all understand that, but this is a very extreme way of dealing with it. Talk of terrorism is just utterly ridiculous.

“There are always police at the fair and surely there is a way we can leave without causing any concerns or disruption.

“The fair causes enough disruption for our lives at the best of the times without some more unnecessary bureaucracy adding to it.”

Yarm Fair, organised by Showmen’s Guild, will take place between October 18 and 20 and will this year celebrate its 650th staging.

“The fair is an integral part of Yarm’s history - it is one of the oldest fairs in the country and we think that is a very significant achievement.

“People say it should be moved to Preston Park, but then it would be no longer Yarm Fair.

“It is three days of disruption out of 365 – we say that is worth it. The fair brings joy and happiness to a lot of people.”

Cllr Norma Wilburn, Stockton Borough Council’s cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture, said: “We are always happy to provide advice and guidance to organisations who want to put on events in the borough and we’ve been supporting the Showmen’s Guild with their planning for Yarm Fair.

“In previous years, residents have been allowed to show their parking permits to drive through road closures and along a packed Yarm High Street in order to get access to and from their homes during the event.

“Under updated safety advice, it’s no longer acceptable practice to allow vehicles to be driven into crowded events spaces and so we’ve recommended that from this year road closures are fully enforced, with no vehicular access at all during the event.

“As this will restrict residents’ access to their homes, we have also recommended some revised opening hours and the provision of reserved parking for permit holders at Yarm Wharf and The Old Market during the event.

“To their credit, the Showmen’s Guild have accepted the recommendations, which have also been welcomed by the borough’s Independent Safety Advisory Group, and we are all looking forward to a very successful event.”