PREPARATIONS are being made across County Durham ahead of Gypsies and Travellers making the journey to and from this year’s Appleby Horse Fair.

As in previous years, Durham County Council is setting up Temporary Stop Over Areas (TSOAs) along roads traditionally used by Gypsies and Travellers heading to and from the fair, for the benefit of both those using them and residents living along the routes.

The TSOAs are being provided as part of a coordinated response also involving the South West Durham Business, Residents and Travellers Forum and the Teesdale Residents’ and Travellers’ Forum, which include representatives from the county council, town and parish councils, Durham Constabulary, local businesses and Gypsy, Roma, Traveller representatives.

The fair was not able to be held on its traditional date this year due to coronavirus restrictions. Instead it will run from Thursday August 12 to Wednesday August 18. Nine TSOAs are being prepared along traditional travelling routes to Appleby in Teesdale and the South West Durham area, which will be open from today (Friday 30 July) until Friday 27 August.

The TSOAS will be in South West Durham at:

• Binchester Corner, DL14 8AW;

• Tindale Park, DL14 9AE;

• Westerton Layby, DL14 8AL;

And in Teesdale at:

• Broomielaw Picnic Area, DL12 8TT;

• Guide Post Corner, Bowes, DL12 9HU;

• Land at Stainton Bank, DL12 8RQ;

• Shaw Bank Field, DL12 8TD;

• Wackerfield Layby, DL2 3AP;

• Winston Corner, DL2 3RW.

There is also a TSOA at Gurney Valley, Bishop Auckland, DL14 8RP which is available throughout the summer.

The council’s Gypsy, Roma, Traveller Service (GRTS) will ensure facilities are provided at all TSOAs, including temporary toilet facilities, refuse collections and, in some cases, water supply for animals. Such facilities are put in place to encourage use of the TSOAs rather than the setting up of unauthorised encampment areas.

Officers from the council will be making regular visits to the TSOAs. In addition, representatives of other County Durham services and organisations in County Durham will also be visiting the sites and any unauthorised encampments to ensure appropriate support is offered to those encamped. In the interests of reducing transmission of coronavirus, information on vaccination and hand sanitiser will be provided at the areas.

Temporary signs will be in place to advise of the locations of TSOAs.

Owen Cleugh, the county council’s public protection manager, said: “We have worked really hard with our partners once again this year to prepare for Gypsies and Travellers making the journey to and from Appleby – for the good of everyone. Providing stop over areas benefits both Gypsies and Travellers who are able to access sites with a range of facilities and also reduces the number of unauthorised encampments, which can be an issue for local residents and businesses.

“We would therefore ask that Gypsies and Travellers use the TSOAs we are providing.

“We would also strongly encourage anyone making the journey to and from Appleby and using the TSOAs to get a coronavirus vaccination before doing so, to keep themselves and those they come into contact with as safe and healthy as possible.”

Mike Taylor, chair of the Teesdale Residents and Travellers Forum, said: “We have continued to work together to ensure that the passage of the Travellers through Teesdale on their way to and from the Appleby Horse Fair will be as easy as possible for both Travellers and residents as in previous years.”

Sergeant Angela Drasdo, from Barnard Castle Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “The police and our partners will be monitoring the migration through Teesdale and will be supporting our communities.

“Some residents accept the migration of Travellers through Teesdale each year but others have concerns about the potential for trespass and there can be feelings of unease from the settled community. In reality this is a diverse community happening and not a police public safety event.

“Our joined-up approach and the pre-planning and provision we make, means we have experienced a relatively small number of incidents directly related to the Travellers.”

Those travelling to Appleby will be able to access information about Temporary Stop Over Areas on the event website:

Any members of the public wishing to speak to the council’s Gypsy, Roma, Traveller service can call 03000 260 000 or email