THE owner of a fair that went ahead in Pickering at the weekend despite advice from public health officers has said every safety measure was taken to ensure visitor safety.

Organisers had been advised to cancel the event, which was held in a field off Thornton Road, due to current coronavirus guidelines, however, they decided to proceed.

However, Terry Atha, who runs Atha’s Fun Fairs, said they had followed government guidelines with NHS track and trace, sanitisers on every ride and social distancing.

He said: “If we hadn’t followed the rules the council would have shut us down, but we did everything to the letter. I have a family and bills to pay and we haven’t been able to open all year so we are glad to be up and running again in what is a lot safer environment than a lot of other places.”

Pickering resident Helene Haythorne said the fair had been well organised with track and trace, a one-way system and maximum of 200 visitors at any one time, as well as sanitising rides.

She said: “I think the basis for most people’s objections was the location as it happens to be at the bottom of their garden. Travelling show people have a right to work in the same way that every other person does in this country.”

However, Chris Smith, who lives nearby, said he and other residents were horrified the fair was allowed to come to Pickering.

He said: “We were forced to go out because my wife has very bad tinitus in both ears and there was no escape from the pounding beat of the music in any room of our house. It totally drove her to distraction. Other fairs have been cancelled so why not this one? We are totally dismayed and upset with the whole thing. It just seems like no one cares.”

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) said: “NYCC continues to support businesses and communities in their efforts to open up the local economy as much as possible, but the council made clear to the organisers of the Pickering Fair that, following consultation with Public Health England and the Ryedale Safety Advisory Group, it could not support the fair going ahead given the nature of such events to facilitate the interaction of large groups of people.

“The decision was made in light of the concerning evidence of increased community transmission of Covid-19 across North Yorkshire in recent weeks – large social gatherings such as these can exacerbate the transmission of Covid-19 and put our communities at risk.

“The county council stated that should organisers proceed with the fair despite the advice given to cancel the event, the organisers needed to carry out all necessary risk assessments to ensure a COVID-19 secure environment.”

“Organisers also needed to ensure that all visitors adhered to the government’s new ‘rule of six’ social distancing guidelines, with no more than six people in individual groups socialising together.

“Although the County Council did not use any enforcement powers to stop the event, it reserved the right to take appropriate action if the level of risk increased. COVID-19 security measures were inspected before and after the fair opened, and was continued to be monitored by County Council officers and multi-agency partners.”