Ancient Norman Fair Hit by Crime

LessaychevauxLessay Fair is one of the oldest in Normandy, dating back to the 11th century, but now its mayor and councillors have resigned saying it has become a target for crime.

In recent years the mayoral team has warned that there is not enough manpower to police the fair which attracts over 400,000 visitors over three days at the beginning of September.

But this year has been the final straw with the Mayor’s house and the town hall’s secretary general’s house both being burgled during the event.

Mayor Claude Tarin and his colleagues said that everyone’s home and valuables are at risk because there are not enough police to deal with crowd control and incidents at the fair ground with stretches over 42 acres on the outskirts of the town. Jewellery and €2,000 were stolen from Mr Tarin’s house and €1,200 in the other burglary.

Now the mayor and 16 members of his team have sent a resignation letter to the prefecture calling for more resources for policing the town during the annual fair which has thousands of stalls selling a range of products from household equipment to animals, food, cars, farm machinery and agricultural goods.

They say that the 160 police drafted in for the three day fair is not enough. ‘Every year, we hold meetings before the fair to discuss security. Each year we hope it will go better. And the conclusion is always the same: we do not have the means to enforce the laws of the Republic, before the show and during the fair. So we are making a stand in the hope that our problem is considered,’ said Roland Maresq, deputy mayor.

They are supported by other mayors in the area including Guy Nicolle, mayor of Gavray which also holds an ancient fair once a year who is also president of the Manche Fairs Association, and Claude Halbecq, president of the Manche Mayor’s Association.
Prosecutor Renaud Gaudeul confirmed that there had been two burglaries and indicated that the prime suspects are gypsies who arrive in their hundreds in the days running up to the Lessay Fair.

Daniele Polvé-Montmasson, the Manche prefect, has meanwhile indicated that she understood the confusion and turmoil but she does not want the police to be made into scapegoats.

Colonel Arnaud Girault, commander of the Manche Police, confirmed that 160 police where on duty at the fairground over the three days and 15 for two weeks before, mostly to speak with the gypsies arriving. One problem was that a higher number arrived than there was space for, some 850 caravans but there was only space for 700 so problems were inevitable.

But the mayoral team added that more needs to be done to make the annual fair a more secure event including for householders.

About Ray Clancy

Ray Clancy has 20 years experience in journalism including contributing articles to print and on-line publications such as, Property World Middle East and websites for estate agents. She has also written for the Daily Telegraph and Mail on Sunday.

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