Thousands of travelers have sparked a second day of chaos after arriving in a historic market town in England’s smallest county.
Around 1,500 gypsies have gathered at the Rutland Showground in Oakham for a mass Christian event, the Festival of Light and Life.
But over the weekend, residents reported chaos in the quaint town – with drag racing, shop looting and anti-social behavior that forced some local businesses to close.
Today (Mon) residents shared how they had spent a second day locked in their own homes because they were too scared to leave.
Schools even advised children not to go alone for their own safety after the city was “overrun” by travelers who caused an “absolute bloodbath”.
A nearby McDonald’s remained closed this morning and police stood at the entrance after teenagers reportedly terrorized staff and guests over the weekend.
A group of teenagers were seen running amok and jumping on hoods in the parking lot of a nearby GP garage and an Aldi supermarket that stayed open.
Local businessman Carl Ford, 55, said most smaller firms had been forced to close their doors and residents were avoiding the city out of “fear for their safety”.
He said, “The last 24 hours has been an absolute bloodbath. They ran amok and showed no respect for our city.
“In addition to anti-social behavior, I cannot imagine how many Covid violations there have been.
“They pack in tents like sardines and with the newest variety it’s very worrying.
“They were all racing up the Oakham bypass. It was like a racetrack up there last night. I saw a few cops, but not enough, they seem out of control to me.
“People don’t come to town out of fear for their own safety. The police let most things happen, they are outnumbered.”
Another local who refused to be named said, “It was a nightmare. Our city has been overrun and they are leaving a lot of chaos.
“I can’t understand how this event can go on. It’s easy to believe that the authorities haven’t finalized this yet.
“I’m sure most of them are behaving, but a minority has caused chaos and something needs to be done about it.
“I’m scared of leaving my own home and no one should ever feel that way.”
Another elderly resident added, “It has been incredibly noisy here for the past few days.
“I know there have been problems, especially at McDonald’s, which is only a two-minute walk away.
“I felt uncomfortable and a little scared, especially since I usually go for a walk with my child in a stroller.
“We didn’t have any anti-social behavior up here, for which I am very grateful, but it definitely makes me and my family uncomfortable.”
Alica Kerns, Tory MP for Rutland and Melton, said on social media she is working with police and the local council to address more issues.
She said, “Last night there was more unacceptable disruption and intimidation to our community.
“There were a number of arrests at the Rutland Showground yesterday. Today, I’m focusing on working on solutions to:
“Cope with the unacceptable noise level. It is unacceptable for people on the exhibition grounds to play loud music after 11pm.
“Finish the races on Oakham Bypass. Running on public roads is a crime and I want a constant police presence on the bypass.
“Secure support for our businesses that should feel safe to stay open. Too many felt they had to close yesterday and today. The abuse of store workers is terrifying.
“Make sure the increased police presence is maintained. As I made clear with the police, we need a preventive and strong police force at all times, especially in the evening.
“I want the improved police units and the drone unit to be retained.
“I will continue to demand more protection for all of us and continue to work with the police, the council and our police and crime inspector.”
In a statement, the Rutland Agricultural Society, which owns the exhibition site, said it was aware that the event was “disturbing our neighbors”.
They said, “We wholeheartedly apologize for this [disturbance].
“We agreed to the booking after evaluating the organizer’s risk assessment and believing that it was primarily an event with Christian worship.
“However, there is a minority of people who are disrupting the event and causing significant problems on and around the exhibition grounds.
“Our priority is to maintain public order and minimize disruption, and to allow the event to focus on its Christian worship as quickly and quietly as possible.
“We had contact with the police who were there today.”