Traveller incursion sees village fair cancelled

A VILLAGE fair said to have been held since the 15th century was cancelled when the venue was occupied by aggressive travellers.

Ripley Event was due to be held last Saturday but organisers were forced to call it off on Friday afternoon after a confrontation.

Ockham WI at their stall in a nearby pub. They are, from left, Tricia Nicholson, Lynn O’Rourke, Leslie Stedman, Lynne Simkin and Josie Kidd

The fair was expected to raise about £4,000 for charity and the organisers face losing up to £1,500 in refunds and costs.

It is believed this was the first time the Ripley Event, which has been run by the local Rotary for 35 years, has had to be cancelled.

The day was partially salvaged by a nearby pub which allowed stallholders to set up in the grounds and had an influx of people who would have gone to the fair.

Michael Ramcharan, chairman of the Ripley Event organising committee, said he was contacted on Friday morning by a parish councillor who had spotted a small number of travellers in a field near Ripley Green, where the event was to be held.

Michael and other members of the committee from the Ripley and Send Rotary Club went to mark up the Green but six large caravans towed by vans were driven through the entrance along with several cars.

“Some of the people who turned up were quite aggressive. One man tried to push through a barrier and jostled members of the committee standing around it. Some of the children came up and were abusive and tried to kick the barrier,” Michael said.

Michael and the committee called the police who arrived in the evening with local councillors and began the process of negotiating to get the travellers to leave.

“We had to make a decision and called it off. We had to contact all the stallholders and the entertainments people. We publicised the cancellation and also had to be there at 8.30 on Saturday morning to turn away anyone who turned up.”

The committee began work last year and have been meeting several times a month to get everything in place.

Michael said The Saddlers Arms in Send Marsh opened their grounds to stallholders and this had salvaged some of the lost work.

“They did a great job,” he said.

For the full story get the 25 July edition of the New & Mail

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