GARGRAVE councillors are hoping for a co-ordinated approach involving police and North Yorkshire Council to any possible issues with the travelling community ahead of this year's Appleby Horse Fair.

After last year, when more than 30 gypsies and travellers with around 20 horses and vehicles stopped off in the village during the late May Bank Holiday weekend, it was agreed a strategy was the best way forward for future years.

A busy parish council meeting in June last year heard of anti-social behaviour on the village greens by some travellers which left some residents feeling intimidated and calling 999, and the need for skips afterwards to clear up all the rubbish left behind. Some of the travellers stay on the greens for longer than just overnight, and stop off again on their way back, heard the meeting.

There was also a suggestion that the village worked with the travellers, in a similar way to Hawes, which reportedly worked well; and talks of providing temporary toilets, although that was ruled out because of difficulties getting contractors.

Sgt Paul Evans, who attended the meeting, said that police response had not been adequate over the late bank holiday weekend and suggested a strategy with police working with the parish council, the community, North Yorkshire Council and hopefully, a gypsy liaison officer.

 But at last week's meeting of the parish council, chair, Stephen Coetzer said he was concerned as there had not yet been a meeting with police ahead of this year's Appleby Fair, which is due to take place between June 6 and June 12, with travellers expected to arrive in Gargrave in late May as they make their way up the A65 towards Cumbria.

"June is not long off, and we are no closer to a travellers' plan for this year, and it is such a contentious issue," said Cllr Coetzer, who added he would chase it up with police.

Sergeant Paul Evans told the Craven Herald: “I am meeting with Gargrave Parish Council and other interested parties to look at how we can work together in the run-up to Appleby Horse Fair, with the aim of the travelling community passing through the area safely and without incident.

“Last year, there were several calls to the police around anti-social behaviour which caused upset.

“I am looking to work with North Yorkshire Council to ensure we get the right people onboard to help reduce the likelihood of such issues and to keep everyone safe.”