Community demands answers to solve Warwick traveller issue

The travellers currently on Hampton Road.
The travellers currently on Hampton Road.

People have been left fearing for their businesses and their customers’ safety after travellers returned to Warwick this week.

Over Christmas and New Year travellers settled on several sites in Hampton Road and at St Nicholas Park car park.

The group of travellers currently on the Hampton Road sites.

The group of travellers currently on the Hampton Road sites.

And on Monday, around 30 caravans returned to Hampton Road, just seven weeks after the last group was forced to move on.

Hannah Reilly, the principal and owner of Hannah Clare School of Dance, which is in the Westend Centre on Hampton Road, has become increasingly concerned for the safety of the parents and children who come to her.

She said: “We operate five days-a-week and when you get to the road there are dogs and children running across the road. They are very intimidating.

“I spoke to the police on Tuesday morning and they said to just carry on as normal. On Tuesday evening when the parents travelled in, the teenagers were knocking on car windows and kicking the cars. The parents were scared and intimidated and I called the police. It took them 45 minutes to come down and I had to cancel the class.

“We pay our taxes to make sure our area is safe and I am really concerned it is not safe for the children and parents to drive through them.

“We, the businesses at the Westend Centre, are fearing for our business. I never thought I would be scared of teenagers.”

The Westend Centre was one of the sites where travellers set up camp in December and the businesses there have had to resort to hiring a security guard and ensuring someone is on the property round-the-clock.

Mrs Reilly said: “If the council is having a meeting they should be inviting residents, me and people from the Westend Centre whose businesses are all being affected.

“It is so ridiculous that it’s happening again so soon. We can’t carry on like this.”

Martyn Ashford, a Warwick district councillor, said: “Measures need to be put in place to stop this happening again and them being able to get onto the site.

“I would like to stress to people not to take the law into their own hands and to not go down there but to leave it to the police.”

Martin Rone-Clarke, Gypsy Traveller relations officer for the police, said: “Warwickshire Police is aware that members of the travelling community are currently camped on land in Hampton Street, Warwick and we are working with Warwick district Council to establish whether any crimes have been committed and what legal options are available to recover the land at the earliest opportunity.

“Officers are conducting extra patrols in the area and members of the public are encouraged to report any concerns about anti-social behaviour or criminal activity and these will be investigated.”

According to the Chase Meadow Residents’ Association Facebook page the police have advised the travellers to leave Hampton Road by Sunday evening and that if they fail to do so Section 61 powers will be used on Monday.

A spokesperson from Warwick district council, said: “Officers from Warwick district council visited the site on Hampton Road Tuesday morning with the police and have started our legal process to bring the encampment to an end.

“The police are using their Section 61 power on several Travellers who have been identified as having returned to the site after the police required them to leave, via the Section 61 power, on 28 December 2016 (the Section 61 power for a site is valid for three months).

“A report has been prepared to look at preventative and legal measures the council can take to prevent illegal encampments and this is due to be considered by the council’s Executive in early March.”