PREPARATIONS are being made to accommodate people heading to Europe’s biggest gypsy and traveller gathering.

Appleby Horse Fair, in Cumbria, runs from Thursday, June 8 to Tuesday, June 13 and temporary stop over areas (TSOAs) are being set up across Teesdale in advance.

The six designated sites are along the traditional travelling routes to Appleby and will be open between Friday, May 26 and Friday, June 23.

They are at Wackerfield layby, Stainton Bank, Broomielaw, Shaw Bank field (on the A688 between Stainton Grove and Barnard Castle), and on grassed areas at Winston corner and Guide Post Corner, Bowes.

There is also a TSOA at Gurney Valley, Bishop Auckland, which is open from April throughout the summer.

Durham County 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 provided to encourage use of the TSOAs rather than unauthorised sites.

There will be regular visits to both registered and any unauthorised sites.

Ian Hoult, Durham County Council’s neighbourhood protection manager, said: “We will be working to ensure people pass through County Durham on route to Appleby with minimal impact on local residents, as has been the case previous years.”

Sergeant Simon Rogers, of Barnard Castle Neighbourhood Police Team, added: “Some residents accept travellers passing through the dale, but others have concerns about the potential for trespass and there can be feelings of unease about an influx of people passing through.

“Police and our partners will be monitoring the movement of people and supporting all communities.

“We are using Facebook again this year to provide a better flow of information to help reduce any possible concerns or tensions which may arise.”

Billy Welch, one of the organisers of the fair, said: “I would like to appeal to gypsies and travellers not to arrive too soon at the designated camping areas.

“I’d encourage them to be very wary of traffic while travelling especially where horses are concerned and to show consideration and patience for motorists and other road users.

“I’d also ask them to show consideration for local residents and for the area in which they are camped.”

The policing team will provide updates on facebook pages - Barnard Castle Police and Appleby Horse Fair, the biggest and best in Europe.