This week I managed to get a couple of nights away in the Lake District with my family which was very relaxing, until Friday morning!
Checking my messages about 8am I heard that a group of travellers had arrived on Preston playing field on Thursday night. Local residents of the nearby Monks Wood estate were asking what could be done. The field is well-used by local sports teams as well as by dog walkers and so its occupation by a number of caravans and cars is problematic. Furthermore, a group of travellers did the same last year and left quite a bit of mess and damage to a fence. Nobody wants to see that repeated.
Shortly after 9am I was able to talk on the phone with the council’s head of community safety. He was aware of the arrival of the group but had not at that stage been able to make an assessment. I was able to share intel provided to me by residents that he found helpful in formulating a response. Not being well-versed on traveller related matters I posed a number of questions that I knew residents wanted answers to, such as what the protocol is for dealing with issues of this nature. I was pleased to hear that there is quite a well-drilled plan involving a specialist liaison officer from the Police and members of the council’s legal team who draft and issue the formal legal notices.
I have to confess that I was anxious that coordination of all the parties required might not happen quickly, especially on a Friday during the Easter holidays. By lunchtime however my worries were put at ease when I received word that a multi-agency team had visited the site, spoken with the families camped there, and served them the relevant legal notice to vacate the site within 48 hours. On Saturday morning I had a chat with one of the Police officers who had visited and he said the dialogue they had was very amicable. We all hope that by the time that notice expires later today (Sunday) those occupying the site will comply and move on.
A couple of final remarks…
- There is, as you would expect, a secondary protocol that is triggered in the event of non-compliance with the legal notice. Should this transpire I’ll share an update.
- There are various rumours circulating that I’m happy to be able to put to bed. I visited the site myself this morning and found it (as of 8am Sunday) to be in good order. Each caravan is keeping its rubbish in black bin bags, the grass has no visible damage and the children’s play area is also fine.