Travellers seize on Bank Holiday to set up illegal camps

james armstrong james36army at
Sun May 31 00:08:43 BST 2009

Travellers seize on Bank Holiday to set up illegal camps 
Travellers took advantage of the Bank Holiday weekend to set up camps at two West Country villages in military-style operations while council officials were on the extended break. 
By Paul Stokes 
25 May 2009
The Telegraph
Residents looked on helplessly as a 50-strong gang brought in mechanical diggers and set about concreting over a meadow, fencing off plots and install portable toilets on a site at Newent in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. 
The district council failed to obtain an injunction to prevent the work which included creating sewerage systems and providing electricity and water supplies.
One villager, who did not wish to be named, described seeing earth-moving equipment knocking a hole through a hedge before lorries arrived carrying hardcore.
"I don't think the British Army could do better," he said. "Nobody wants them here because it's an illegal operation, but our main gripe is with the council because we warned them almost half a year ago."
According to locals, a syndicate of four travellers clubbed together to pay £65,000 for the land at Southend Lane last autumn, although there is no planning permission for it to be developed.
Another band of travellers also worked around the clock 40 miles away at the weekend to turn three acres of farmland in Cricklade, Wiltshire, into an illegal camp.
Kieran Westman, a local resident, said: "They've already hard-cored the whole field and they look like they are here for good.
"It was like a military operation. The council served a stop notice, but they ignored that and carried on. Now the place is a real eyesore."
Peter Colmer, vice-chairman of Cricklade town council, voiced his "disappointment" at Wiltshire county council for not being pro-active in dealing with the problem.
The most recent Government figures show that of 2,539 gypsy and traveller sites in south-west England, 893 do not have planning permission and 317 are facing legal action.
A spokesman for the Newent-based travellers, giving his name only as Richard, said: "There's 50 men working here because we need somewhere to live. We don't want to cause any trouble and don't want to bother anybody."
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Cricklade travellers refused to talk about what was happening there. 

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