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Enough is Enough at Brough

Gypsy and Traveller community members have today gathered in Cumbrian Town of Brough to campaign for survival of Britain’s oldest Gypsy Horse Fair. Drive 2 Survive campaigners drove across Britain to provide support for this the most important of causes.


The fate of a centuries-old Brough Hill Gypsy and Traveller horse fair on Brough in Cumbria hangs in the balance as campaigners have gathered at what may be one of the last gatherings at Brough Hill Fair. They are campaigning for an alternative site for the fair which has been held annually since the 13th century.



Above: Billy Welch's impassioned speech as to why National Highways must help to ssave Brough Hill Fair.


Campaigners say that National Highway’s failure to properly consider the cultural significance of Brough Hill Fair alongside its failure to offer a viable alternative site could leave the proposal vulnerable to a legal challenge.


Romany leader Billy Welch, on behalf of the Brough Hill Fair Community Association and Gypsy community, accepts that the Fair may need to move, but believes National Highways’ proposals to relocate the Fair onto a narrow site squeezed between the new dual carriageway and an industrial scale farm and cement works are unsafe, unacceptable, and discriminatory. 


“Brough Hill Fair is ancient and is sacred to Gypsy people. It has been part of our culture for generations. We would prefer if we did not have to move, but we accept the road is needed, and are willing to relocate to a good site. But what we have been offered is not fit for pigs, although, according to National Highways, it is fine for Gypsies. We will not use it and it will lead to the death of the Fair, and another blow to the Gypsy way of life.” 

 

The Fair dates back to the 1300s and is of great cultural significance to the Gypsy and Traveller community, and the wider area, say the campaigners. The Fair has previously occupied different sites in and around Brough.


The National Highways proposal to dual carriageway the existing route of the A66, which links the A1 at Scotch Corner with the M6 at Penrith, requires the current site of the historic Brough Hill Fair. 

 

The Brough Hill Fair Community Association is hopeful that a remedy can be sought on the back of the panel’s instruction to National Highways to enter into further dialogue with Mr Welch and his community to resolve the issue and suggest more suitable sites.


Until now National Highways have rejected all the detailed arguments against their proposals, but without a better replacement site, the fair will not survive.  




Bill Lloyd sings a folk song about the importance of Brough Hill Fair to Gypsies and Travellers.

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