ELVETHAM HEATH ASSESSES DAMAGE OF ILLEGAL CAMP
After the recent visit to Elvetham Heath by the travelling community, the familiar sight of waste products, rubbish and discarded items were seen strewn all over the local area. Food packages, nappies, cigarette and alcohol packaging were either dumped in bags or simply thrown on the ground as yet again the local landowners and council were left to clear up the damage.
The former park and ride site at Elvetham Heath is privately owned and had been forcibly accessed by the travellers on the 27th September despite previous attempts at blocking the entrance to the area. They forced their way over grass verges and through hedges to enter the site, something that Elvetham Heath Parish Council are now left to repair and pick up the cost for.
Below: Damage to grass verges and hedges where travellers forced their way onto the land at Elvetham Heath
The tedious process of having to apply for a court order was processed and local landowners were warned to secure their property as the travellers were finally moved on last week.
With local people sick and tired of Fleet being used as a dumping ground for these illegal encampments, many are asking what can be done to prevent future issues? Previous ‘visits’ have also involved a local school and it isn’t uncommon to see human waste left behind in the disgusting mess that they are never held to account for.
TRENCHES DUG TO SECURE AREA
With previous concrete bollards proving no deterrent to the travelling community, it appears as if trenches are now being built to prevent future access to the area.
Below: Trenches are being dug around the area to secure it from future illegal encampments
WASTEGROUND LEFT FOR LOCALS TO CLEAR
The now familiar sight of rubbish and waste products litters the area that the travellers established themselves on. Worryingly this includes the remains of multiple fires that had been lit.
Below: The mess and waste left behind after the recent traveller visit
There have also been reports of a van forming part of the traveller camp with a gardening business logo on the side of it, as it appears that the travellers may have used this to earn some funds locally…and then dumped the resulting waste along with their other rubbish, before they left.
Below: Waste dumped in the area including freshly cut greenery and black plastic piping/guttering
The tedious process of getting a court hearing leaves local officers and landowners powerless while they wait for a response…as for the costs involved, it is very unlikely that they will ever be reimbursed…
Below: Some of the court papers shown to claim possession of the property on the grounds of trespass
FOR BETTER…OR FOR WORSE?
Hart District Council is believed to be considering either temporary or permanent traveller facilities but will this make things better, or worse? Some local residents aren’t impressed and it certainly begs the question as to why a council should provide such facilities free of charge, offering concessions to the travelling community far above that that any local taxpayer could expect and at a time when cutbacks are being made in all areas.
A comparison has also been made with Basingstoke Council, who have a system that enables instant movement orders, giving them the powers to sort these types of situations quickly and efficiently. However, it is understood that officers and the cabinet member for enforcement have stated that Hart does not qualify for this as we don’t have enough occurrences of the unwelcome visitations. So while we wait idly for even more illegal traveller camps to set up in the area to boost our numbers enough to make local protection viable, the area appears to be left as an ‘open-all-hours’ invitation for whoever fancies dropping by.
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