Furious residents in homes that adjoin Jackey Bakers’ field in Ramsgate are demanding Thanet council finds a way to secure the green.
The site has been the target of four incursions in just over two months this year, the latest occurring when around 16 caravans moved on to the site last night (July 5).
It is the last straw for those whose homes back on to the field with residents saying rubbish and human waste is being left in the wooded area and on the playing fields as well as fences being damaged to gain entry.
Resident Lorna Smith said despite repeated emails to Thanet council she and others are yet to receive any proper communication from the authority.
Last week residents signed a petition asking for a barrier/bund or secure fencing for the entire perimeter of Jackey Bakers to head of Traveller incursions and nuisance bikers who are getting on to the green at night.
She said: “Last year a farmer offered to create a bund at Jackey Bakers but it was refused. We have been promised something would be done for about five years, last year we were promised a fence. Nothing has been done. If you email the council you just get a generic reply. It’s disgusting, we keep being told about the law and Travellers’ rights but what about our rights?
“The wood is full of human s**t and soiled toilet paper. People are being intimidated, last year our councillor Stuart Piper was chased by someone with an iron bar and there was a girl with pushchair who was chased off by people in a van. The fences being ripped down is criminal damage and there is flytipping. Why can’t this be dealt with?
“There is a complete lack of communication about it but we are not going away. If I have to go and camp at the council offices to make them take notice I will.
“We need the entire site made secure and then we can look at having a group that will take care of it but there is no point in that if we can’t secure it.”
Fellow resident Christina Collins has even resorted to fitting one of the metal gates by the park with a padlock in an attempt to stop flytipping behind the houses.
She said: “We believe there was some kind of trade off with the last group that came here from Dreamland.
“It seems all the resources are placed into the tourist areas but tourists do not pay council tax, we do, and we want some service.
“Every bit of fencing needs replacing, the whole area needs to be secure and we need some sort of police presence, a patrol that would maybe pass at night. We also need the site cleaned up and bins properly emptied.”
Residents say they want to fundraise on the field with events to help pay for astro-turf, refurbing the changing rooms and maybe installing cameras but need the perimeter fencing first.
A similar plea for barriers, a ditch or a bund has been made by residents at Dane Valley where the green has also been used by Travellers’ groups numerous times this year.
A Thanet council spokesperson said the authority is aware of the latest incursion, saying: “We are aware of the illegal traveller encampment that has arrived at Jackey Bakers. Officers from Thanet District Council are visiting the site today in order to undertake the necessary welfare assessments and following that, as appropriate, the required notices will be issued.”
It is believed an application has already been made to the courts by TDC so a notice to quit can be served. 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.
The council spokesman added: “We take the concerns of local residents very seriously and the issues around access at Jackey Bakers are something we are working hard to resolve. We are exploring a range of measures to limit nuisance use of the area.
“We have spoken with individual residents and will use our website and social media channels to keep the public in the loop as decisions are made and solutions found.”
Neighbouring council seeks civil injunction
Canterbury City Council land has also been targeted with incursions. The authority is now seeking to obtain a civil injunction to try and prevent unauthorised encampments on any of its land, using existing legislation.
A spokesman said: “The frequency with which this is happening means we need to seek other, long-term solutions to the problem. As a result, we have now begun the process of obtaining a civil injunction to try and prevent unauthorised encampments on any of our land, using existing legislation. A small number of councils have already gone down this route so precedent has been set.
“This is not a quick process but we are now collating evidence with a view to making an injunction application. “