Warwick residents’ Christmas has been “spoilt” after the on-going issues with travellers.
Last week concerns were rapidly growing after travellers moved onto two sites near Hampton Road.
It was then revealed that Warwick councillor Martyn Ashford was threatened by the travellers when he tried assess the area where they had settled.
Acting on residents’ concerns, Cllr Ashford went to the sites the travellers were occupying last Wednesday to assess the issue but when he started to take photos he became surrounded by travellers who then went on to threaten him.
Cllr Ashford said: “I started taking photos and then I was surrounded by travellers and they basically intimidated me and asked that I deleted the photos I had taken. Then one of them said ‘nice car that is’ at my car and I asked if he was trying to intimidate me and he just shrugged his shoulders.
“I would warn everybody not to take on these people on their own and to leave it to the officials to deal with it. The situation can turn volatile if it is approached wrong. It is a frightening situation.”
Despite the issues Cllr Ashford and the Chase Meadows Residents’ Association’s Facebook page said that the travellers were all going to be moved on by December 27.
During the Christmas period tensions were running high because the travellers were still on the sites and there were concerns nothing would be done until January 10.
Cllr Ashford said: “It seems the courts dragged their feet on giving the police the section 61 they need in order to evict the travellers, so I trust the courts have had a jolly good Christmas while the rest of us affected have had their Christmas spoilt.”
Last week the travellers were reported to be on two sites on Hampton Road but one group, who were between Racing Club Warwick and the Racecourse grandstand, were moved on late last week.
Some of that group then settled on a site at Tournament Fields and then moved again onto the Corps of Drums property back on Hampton Road.
On Wednesday afternoon, police were sent down to the sites to serve a section 61 notice to move on the travellers.
Cllr Ashford said: “It is a relief that they were moved on and thanks goes to the police and their section 61.
“There is the prospect of clearing up the mess they have left behind. We are all law-abiding citizens and I cannot see why they cannot be and leave the site the way they found it.”
Since the travellers have been moved, contractors from Warwick District Council have been working to clear up the sites.
Chris Elliott, Chief Executive of Warwick District Council, said: “A few days before Christmas a group of Travellers arrived on the car park next to the Stables of Warwick Racecourse on Hampton Road. Use of this area is essential to the Jockey Club to be able to hold races. Given that there is a race event on New Years Eve, it was viewed as essential that the car park was available for use as soon as possible.
“The District Council and Warwickshire Police assessed the situation and the Council served a Notice to Leave. This does require a court hearing which we could not get a timeslot for it to be held until 10th January 2017. Given that this was not early enough to allow the race meeting to proceed it was then agreed that the Group would be given until 27th December to leave. The Group did not do this and so a Section 61 notice was served by the Police requiring the Group to leave immediately.
“In between all of the above another Group of Travellers arrived on the public car park, also on Hampton Road, between the football club and the Racecourse grandstand. However, owing to a variety of incidents the Police used its powers to require them to move almost immediately.
“Some of that group moved to a site on Tournament Fields and then some moved again, onto the Corps of Drums property which is next to the stables car park. They were moved Wednesday afternoon using Police powers at the same time as the Group on the stables car park next door.
“The Council’s contractors have been on hand to ensure the sites are cleaned up and are ready for the race event.
“The Council and Police are aware that the encampments have caused much discontent amongst the local community for a variety of reasons. Both the Council and the Police have though acted within what powers the law allows us to deploy in such situations and as quickly as possible. It may well have felt to some people like nothing was being done but nothing could be further from the truth.
“We will explore however if anything could have been done better or quicker and we will explore a legal case study referred to us to see if it might be applicable bearing in mind that the Group(s) may not have left the District.”
After being moved on from the Hampton Road sites the travellers then settled on the car park at St Nicholas Park.