‘Scaremongering’ has been blamed for low attendances at the Rotherham Show - as a man was arrested on suspicion of ‘inciting a riot’ with online comments about potential attacks.
South Yorkshire Police confirmed a 35-year-old man was arrested last Friday following comments made on their own Facebook page - as the town’s mayor said internet rumours had contributed to low attendances at the event.
The comments follow online remarks about potential attacks in response to a 16-year-old boy from the Asian community being allegedly assaulted on Effingham Street, Rotherham, on September 9.
Mark Smith, 32, of Fleming Way, Wickersley, Rotherham, has been charged with assault in relation to the alleged assault and is due to appear at Sheffield Crown Court later this month.
Police have now confirmed a man has been arrested over online comments linked to that incident made in the run-up to the show.
A spokeswoman for South Yorkshire Police said: “A 35-year-old man was arrested on Friday, September 11, on suspicion of inciting a riot following comments made on the South Yorkshire Police Facebook page. He has been bailed pending further enquiries.
“Whilst we welcome comments and we are keen to encourage them on our social media page, we will not tolerate anyone breaking the law or making threatening or abusive posts which are intended to incite violence and intimidate people living in South Yorkshire.”
It came as Rotherham mayor Maggi Clark told a council meeting yesterday there had been an ‘extremely low attendance’ on the Saturday of the two-day show, with between 10,000 to 15,000 people present.
She said that ‘scaremongering on social media’ as well as bad weather had contributed to the smaller-than-expected turnout at the show – which normally attracts between 70,000 and 80,000 visitors for the two days.
Coun Clark said attendances had improved on the Sunday, with more than 30,000 people going to the event at Clifton Park.
The event, which describes itself as the largest free show in the North of England, included live music, a dog dancing display and a tug of war, with the Sunday including a vintage vehicle rally.
Prior to this year’s Rotherham Show police said additional officers would be on patrol at the event ‘to offer reassurance to all members of the public from all communities of Rotherham’.
Following the council meeting, Rotherham Council said the lower-than-normal numbers on Saturday should be ‘attributed to the weather’.
Managing director commissioner Stella Manzie said in a statement issued by the council: “The Rotherham Show really does what it says – shows what Rotherham is all about, giving the town a fantastic boost, bringing the community together and giving a warm welcome to visitors from further afield.
“During the day I chatted to people of all ages and backgrounds, all brought together within the beautiful and peaceful surroundings of Clifton Park.
“Although we had a little rain on Saturday morning, the sun did its job and came out once again for the rest of the show, successfully drawing in tens of thousands of visitors over the course of weekend.
“Thanks very much to everyone involved, including the visitors, exhibitors, council staff, volunteers and the police.”