Councillors refuse bid for permanent Seamer Horse Fair site

Scarborough Council’s bid to allocate a field just outside the town as a permanent home for an annual travellers horse fair has been scuppered by its own councillors.

Thursday, 18th April 2019, 11:12 am
Updated Saturday, 20th April 2019, 8:54 am
The site between Seamer and Crossgates.

The Seamer Horse Fair has origins which date back to a Royal Charter issued in November 1382 by Richard II.

However, it was not until the 1900s that the fair became associated with travellers.

For the last nine years, the fair has been held in a field off the B1261 between Seamer and Crossgates and the number of those attending the fair has fallen sharply.

Previously, travellers had been known set up camp on parcels of land around the area which had led to conflict with residents of the village.

The council has planning permission to use the site to house the travellers but the planning application granted in 2015 specified that it would be re-examined after three years.

Scarborough Council had applied to use the site on a “continuing” basis and, on Thursday last week, the authority’s planning committee was asked to approve the change.

The committee though was not convinced.

The councillors heard from a nearby resident who spoke of the adverse impact the fair had on his life.

After listening to his points the councillors felt there was no need to remove the condition that the permission should be reviewed every three years.

Cllr David Jeffels (Con) told last Thursday’s meeting: “I think the three-year temporary use on the site has given the council some control that we can say to the travellers that if it is not well used they would not be allowed to use it [in the future].

“I don’t see any reason why we cannot continue with a temporary permission.”

Cllr Steve Siddons (Lab) added: “If we were to refuse permission for the site where would they go? “We know from previous years they are still going to come.”

Cllr Siddons said he was worried that by granting the permanent use it could stop the site being used for other purposes in the future, such as housing.

The planning application showed that the numbers of people attending the fair had declined dramatically.

At its peak, more than 230 travellers set up their homes on the field but this year that number dropped to just 55.

The planning committee voted unanimously to only grant permission for another three years.