Scarborough councillors have decided against granting the permanent use of a field for travellers visiting the annual Seamer Horse Fair.
Members of the authority’s planning and development committee were concerned the move, which had been recommended by officers, would lead to the council losing its ability to make changes in the event of trouble.
Instead the committee decided to grant a three-year licence, allowing the Scarborough Council-owned field off the B1261 near Crossgates to be used by travellers for up to 14 days each year.
It was the same decision taken in 2013 by the council.
More than 100 people objected to the plan to grant a permanent licence.
One neighbour spoke at the meeting, telling the councillors: “The fair makes my life a nightmare. We are fenced in by the police for our own protection but last year, late at night when my children were asleep a man knocked on the door and asked me to call the police as he was a wanted criminal who had spent time in prison.
“I was scared for my family and it took more than 30 minutes for the police to come and remove him despite the fact I could see dozens of them from my front door.”
The Seamer Horse Fair is a highlight event in the travellers’ calendar in the North of England, attracting some 150 families with caravans and hundreds of horses and ponies.
It dates back to 1382 when King Richard II granted a charter for the fair on the feast of St Martin and for seven days following.
It takes place every July but gained a bad reputation in the recent past for outbreaks of trouble caused by the visiting travellers.
The committee was told that if it did not grant a licence for an approved site it would limit the police’s powers to move travellers if they set up on public or private land.
However, the councillors did not want to grant a permanent use for the Crossgates site.
“If we do just grant a permanent licence we are effectively sticking two fingers up at the concerns of the local residents,” said Cllr Godfrey Allanson.
The licence will be reviewed again in 2019.