A group of travellers with more than ten vehicles has set up camp on a grass verge alongside Bradley Stoke Way overnight (Thursday 21st/Friday 22nd August).
The same strip of land, near Primrose Bridge (between Aldi and the Willow Brook Centre), was the site of a ten-day illegal traveller encampment in June.
Three vehicles were seen at the site shortly after 10pm last night and by 6.15am this morning the encampment had grown to include at least eleven vehicles.
The land on which the travellers are camped is owned by South Gloucestershire Council (SGC), which was widely criticised during the June episode for taking a “weak” approach to resolving the situation.
Following the previous encampment, Bradley Stoke mayor Cllr John Ashe, frustrated at SGC’s lack of action, arranged for a set of four wooden posts to be installed on the access ramp to the site in an effort to “prevent another incursion”. This morning, only two of the posts remain and one of two trees planted on the ramp only last week has also disappeared.
Town and district councillor Ben Walker, who was highly critical of SGC during and after the June encampment, has already written to Amanda Deeks, SGC’s chief executive, saying:
“Here we go again. Travellers on the same piece of land but this time, they removed a tree and two timber posts to gain access.”
“This is criminal damage and forced entry so these travellers should be charged as such and removed from site TODAY.”
“Another weak approach and drawn out negotiation simply won’t do this time.”
Local MP Jack Lopresti was also critical of SGC for apparently preferring to “persuade” the travellers to move on, rather than taking legal action. He even raised the matter in parliament (on 30th June), where he was told by Secretary of State Eric Pickles that: “… if action is taken promptly, the law is adequate”.
Photo: Traveller encampment at 6.15am this morning. [Credit: Tim Bull]
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UPDATE (at 3pm on 22nd August): The office of Jack Lopresti MP has issued the following statement:
Today Jack Lopresti, Member of Parliament for Bradley Stoke has demanded that South Gloucestershire Council take swift action to move on the Travellers illegally pitched on Bradley Stoke Way.
Last night around 11pm travellers broke onto the embankment on Bradley Stoke Way to illegally pitch there, in doing so causing considerable damage to the foliage and wooden bollards present.
“I am very disappointed to see travellers, again, illegally pitched on Bradley Stoke Way. This morning my office has been in contact with the Chief Executive of South Gloucestershire Council and the police to ensure that this situation is in hand and that all is being done to evict the trespassers and that prosecutions are made for the criminal damage that has been done to the site. I have also asked the police to ensure that all vehicles on site are road worthy, taxed and insured.”
“I’m deeply irritated to see travellers back on this site just over a month since they were last evicted. Despite the solid efforts of Bradley Stoke Mayor, John Ashe and his team of local Councillors to ensure this situation didn’t occur again the sluggish bureaucracy and poor leadership shown by South Gloucestershire Council have stunted those efforts and let down the people of Bradley Stoke.”
“I will be working with local councillors to ensure that South Gloucestershire Council and the police moves the travellers on as expediently as possible.”
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