Kenilworth will ‘live in fear’ if permanent traveller sites not found, council leader claims

Travellers' caravans in Bates Memorial Field
Travellers' caravans in Bates Memorial Field

Kenilworth’s residents will ‘live in fear’ if no permanent sites for travellers are found, the leader of Kenilworth Town Council has claimed.

Cllr John Cooke (Con, St John’s) made the comments at a town council meeting on Thursday August 31 in a discussion about travellers accessing Bates Memorial Field earlier that month.

Some of the mess left behind

Some of the mess left behind

He also said the problem of finding permanent sites for travellers to be moved onto has been unsolved for many years.

Cllr Cooke said: “When I was first elected to this town council in 1979, we were under instruction to find gypsy and traveller sites.

“Every time anybody tried to do it there was public opposition - every single one was shot down. Nobody wanted a site anywhere near them.

“And that’s still the situation many years later. Without sites, we’re going to be living in fear every time a horse fair comes.”

Travellers with around 20 caravans accessed the park on Tuesday August 15. They left on Thursday August 17 at around 9.30pm on the same day police had issued a notice to leave. This was quite a quick exit compared to other sites in the district.

Cllr Marilyn Bates (Con, St John’s) said: “It was amazing they went that evening. We were very lucky.

“There was a bit of a mess but there wasn’t as much as we thought.

“But everybody is still very worried this will happen again.”

Cllr Cooke said he thought the travellers left earlier than in other place because did not like it when regular users of the park went about their business as usual.

He said: “They think they own the place and nobody will go anywhere near them.”

And although Warwick District Council is looking at measures to stop travellers accessing green spaces, Cllr Mike Hitchins (Con, Park Hill), said the town council needed to ‘think deeply’ about what measures are used.

He added: “We need to put a ditch in, and the next thing is concrete barriers.

“But one barrier is not enough - we need two barriers in a sort of chicane shape to stop them getting on.”

He also suggested renting the barriers close to when horse fairs came to the town to save money.