PREPARATIONS have begun to ensure the mass movement of travellers through Teesdale on their way to the Appleby Horse Fair passes off as smoothly as possible.
Police and members of the Teesdale Residents and Travellers Forum say they want to see a repeat of last year's success which resulted in the fewest incidents of migration-related anti-social behaviour to date.
Inspector Kevin Tuck, of Barnard Castle Police, said although there were still issues with some unlawful encampments, the introduction of five official traveller sites – officially termed temporary areas of acceptance - had been a major part of the progress made.
The five sites are at Wackerfield, Broomilaw, Shaw Bank, North Winston and Guide Post Corner, Bowes.
Durham County Council provides portable toilets, bins and water at each of the sites.
A temporary order banning all parking along Bridgegate, Barnard Castle, from the Blue Bell pub to the County Bridge and over the other side of the Tees to include Deerbolt Bank, will again be in force during the migration period.
Insp Tuck said: “It is inevitable the travellers will pass through our area.
"What we have put in place isn’t perfect but we are in a much better position with more control, fewer complaints and less tension.”
Police will also operate extra patrols at night and during the Barnard Castle Meet weekend (May 27-29) which coincides with the build-up to the Appleby Fair, which starts on June 6.
The Teesdale Residents and Travellers Forum was set up in 2005 after travellers sparked local anger by setting up camp on the Demesnes, in Barnard Castle, for a number of weeks.
Forum chairman Tony Cooke said the situation was now much improved compared to previous years.
“We work with the travellers to see how we can come to some amicable solutions, where we provide them with facilities and they don't interfere with the local community.
“On the whole, it has worked very well in the last four to five years,” he added.
Traveller-related incidents of anti-social behaviour in Teesdale during the six week period around the Appleby Fair have reduced from 58 in 2009 to 18 last year.
All incidents of anti-social behaviour in Teesdale during the months of April - July have reduced from 545 in 2006 to 162 in 2012.
More Barnard Castle & Teesdale News