HUNDREDS of people descended on Basingstoke at the weekend to take part in unauthorised horse races that closed a major road.

Around 200 members of the traveller community flocked to the A33 between Micheldever and Popham for horse and trap races that caused disruption to the road network.

A 33-year-old man from London was arrested on suspicion of drug driving and three vehicles were seized by officers during the event, which lasted from early morning to late afternoon on Saturday and Sunday.

Some of the group stayed at the Crowne Plaza hotel over the weekend, with police and security guards called to manage the incident after witnesses described some members becoming “drunken and abusive”.

The hotel said the group had given various reasons why they were permitted to travel, including that they were attending a funeral.

Hampshire Constabulary has been criticised after police closed the road and diverted traffic.

But they defended their actions this week saying: “Policing always has to balance whether allowing an event to happen, even if illegal, is safer than the risks of shutting it down."

You can read the full story in this week’s edition of The Gazette. Also in this week's paper:

  • Plans to hold up to 500 asylum seekers on a piece of land off the A303 have been dropped by the Home Office.
  • One of Basingstoke’s Covid vaccination centres has reached a significant milestone after it administered its 100,000th Covid vaccine dose since it opened in December.
  • A Basingstoke resident has hit out at the council for its “stringent rules” which have prevented him from making his house suitable for his young child with breathing difficulties.
  • An NHS worker who looks after Covid patients at Basingstoke hospital had her bike stolen twice, forcing her to walk 45 minutes to get home after spending hours on her feet. 
  • A fundraising appeal has been launched after a ‘tragic’ fire in Baughurst caused a family to lose everything they own including much-loved pets.
  • Basingstoke's vaccination centres have been recognised in an awards ceremony showcasing Basingstoke’s finest.
  • The Anvil Trust has received a donation of £1,000 to help continue its popular Festival Place pop-up as calls for the council to reverse its decision to slash funding continue. 
  • A Basingstoke artist commissioned to produce a short film on knife crime wants to humanise victims to stop stabbings becoming “normalised”.
  • PLUS: All the latest from Basingstoke Magistrates' Court.
  • Two pages of your letters to the editor.
  • Pictures: Hatch Warren Runners' 'Miles for Styles' challenge for MND Association
  • The latest news from our communities.
  • An eight-page puzzle special.
  • Business news.
  • Three pages of entertainment news.
  • Four pages of sports news. And much more!

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