HUNDREDS of travellers are gathering ahead of an annual horse fair and parade.
This bank holiday weekend will be the fourth time traders and their families have gathered at the field on Seaview Industrial Estate, in Horden, with up to 300 carts expected to take part in a rally on Monday.
The visitors started arriving at the start of the week and are expected to move off the Durham County Council site after Monday’s event.
Facilities have been provided for the travellers and Durham Constabulary will patrol the area, although police have said in previous years there has been a reduction in crime in the area during the gathering.
Businesses have welcomed the extra trade and community leaders have said relations between the residents and travellers have always been good in the past.
Sergeant Ian Dickinson, of Peterlee Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We will be there just to prevent any disorder or breach of the peace and to reassure both the travelling community and the community of Horden.
“Anyone who is concerned can ring me or speak to any officer.
“There’s always been a friendly atmosphere in the past. Both communities live differently and a lot of the locals have got talking to the travellers and it’s very interesting to hear and find out about the ways they each live.
“It’s a good chance to have a better understanding and over the last few years they’ve really come together.
“The travellers welcome members of the public on to the field to have a look at their market stalls and the horses.”
Police and traveller liaison officers met with organisers and representatives of nearby businesses in the run-up to the weekend to discuss concerns, which included parking and access to the industrial estate.
Yesterday, the council applied to Peterlee Magistrates’ Court to remove four vehicles from land away from the main field, but police said the encampment, made up of about 20 vans, had already moved and joined the rest of the travellers.
More than 100 caravans have already set up on the land, off the roundabout of the B1283 and A1086 Sunderland Road and Thorpe Road.
The parade is expected to take place between 11am and noon and will head up Thorpe Road to Easington Village, then turn on to Seaside Lane through the colliery and Grants Houses back to the site.