Thanet council officers and Kent Police have been to speak to Travellers who have moved on to Jackey Bakers playing field in Ramsgate.
A large number of caravans and vehicles, and at least one horse, entered the area on Sunday evening (June 17).
A Thanet council spokesman said: “We are aware of the illegal traveller encampment that has arrived at Jackey Bakers.
“Officers from Thanet District Council will visit the site in order to undertake the necessary welfare assessments and following that, as appropriate, the required notices will be issued.”
Kent Police visited the site this morning (June 19)
A Kent Police spokesman said: “ Kent Police is aware of a number of vehicles and caravans in Jackey Baker’s field, Highfield Road, Ramsgate. The vehicles moved onto the site on Sunday evening, 17 June.
“Thanet Community Safety Unit is liaising with the landowner, the local council, over the matter and officers are making regular visits to the site.”
Ward councillor Rev Stuart Piper said: “This is extremely disappointing for local residents. The cavalier manner in which these Travellers forced their way into the park is unacceptable.
“I had a walk round site visit with Thanet council’s cheif executive just over a week ago. She saw the security risks first hand and we discussed a remedy to make the park secure. Unfortunately there isn’t much we can do if they decide to smash their way in by destroying the fence along the Sainsbury store road area.
“The fence does not belong to Thanet council so we can’t just replace it. They also destroyed the TDC owned internal barriers. I have emailed several senior officers for immediate action.”
Jackey Bakers was used by Travelers last month (May) and by two separate groups last June. There was also a large encampment at the site in July 2016.
There are also some 22 caravans, vehicles and tipper trucks at Dane Valley Green.
Cllr Gary Taylor, who has photographed the group using a tipper on the far side of the green, said some residents are also now avoiding walking their dogs on the green because of vehicles being driven at speed on the site.
The first of the group moved on to the green on Thursday (June 14). Thanet council carried out welfare checks and a notice to leave was due to be served.
Since then more vans and vehicles, including tipper trucks, have appeared. Ward councillor Gary Taylor has made a complaint about soil being flytipped on the site.
Residents in Dane Valley are appealing for a barrier to be put around the perimeter of the green as a preventative measure.
A Thanet council spokesman said: “Thanet District Council appreciates the frustrations that illegal traveller encampments cause those who live around the Dane Valley area and will continue to explore the different options available to prevent these happening in the future.
“Due to the large large perimeter of the green and the need to ensure the area continues to be safe and accessible for the community – the solution to the problem is not a straightforward one.”
It is an offence for somebody subject to a Section 77 notice to quit to fail to leave as soon as reasonably practicable or to re-enter the site within three months of the date on which the notice was given.
For council-owned land Thanet council would need to obtain a ‘direction to leave’ order from magistrates’ court.
To do this the authority has to:
- Show that the gypsies/travellers are on the land without consent.
- Have regard to the general health and welfare of the group and the children’s education.
- Ensure that the Human Rights Act 1998 has been fully complied with.
The council must follow a set procedure that is based on Government guidance. This procedure includes proving ownership of the land, carrying out assessments for the health, welfare and education criteria, and assessing the impact of the encampment on its location and local neighbourhood.
Once these have been carried out the council can use this information for the service of notices and summonses to apply for a court order for eviction.
For privately-owned land the landowner can attempt to agree a leaving date with the travellers or take proceedings in the County Court under the Civil Procedures Rules 1998 to obtain a court order for their eviction as trespassers.
The landowner may be in breach of planning legislation and the Caravan Sites Act 1960 unless they have already obtained planning permission for a caravan site.
If there is no planning permission the council may take proceedings against the landowner to require removal of the illegally parked caravans.
Providing Traveller sites – the law
The Housing Act 2004 and Planning Circular 01/2006, Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites, has put in place a framework which means every local authority has to identify land for the sites that are needed in its area. The Secretary of State has powers that can ensure that those sites are identified, and the Local Government Association (LGA) says local authorities should be proactive in doing so.
The LGA adds: “The provision of these sites removes a major cause of friction between the two communities – unauthorised sites and illegal camping.”
The nearest authorised sites to Thanet are at Aylesham and Canterbury.