BUSINESSES in Stow-on-the-Wold will be shutting up shop as the town braces itself for the bi-annual Stow Gypsy Horse Fair.

Pubs will not be opening from Monday, May 12, until after the event finishes on the Thursday.

Landlords of pubs in the town say their property becomes damaged if they open during the week of the fair.

John Bate, manager of The Queen's Head, said: "There are many pubs that think it is okay to open but after a couple of years they realise they are left with a lot of damage.

"We do lose business (by closing) but we won't risk our customers safety or the pub's integrity."

Robin Veitch (corr) of Huntingdon Antiques said: "We normally are open but we frequently keep the front door locked. People have only to knock on the door and we will let them in."

Mayor Tom Morris said: "The town council is trying to shorten the time that the gypsies arrive. We are in negotiation with them and we are trying to restrict them going onto the field until Tuesday. At the moment they arrive on the Monday."

A spokesman for Gloucestershire police said: "As in previous years officers will address all incidents of anti social behaviour and disorder that occur, and will act to minimise the threatening nature and impact of such behaviour on the visitors to, and residents of, Stow.

"We will be particularly active in relation to incidents that we know from past experience can cause friction between residents and visitors - such as traffic offences - although residents should be aware that police have no powers to remove vehicles parked on verges that are part of the public highway.

"Officers will, of course, issue parking tickets to the owners of illegally parked vehicles."

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