Travellers – Again
Following the previous long-running saga of travellers setting up an unauthorised site in Middle Road, 2010 saw a very unpleasant incident on the Village Playing Field.
On Sunday, 30/5, a group of six caravans and associated vehicles set up camp on Denton Playingfield. They were later joined by two more.
The Parish Council, who lease the land involved from the Rogerson Trust, decided to take appropriate action. The police were informed and visited the site. South Norfolk District council were contacted and their Gypsy & Traveller Liaison Officer, Tony Cooke, also visited the site. He then advised the PC of the options open to them.
Our district councillor, Murray Gray, was also trying to help but it was emphasised that neither the DC, nor the County Council, had any direct responsibility for taking action re trespass on private land.
In the meantime, to avoid any unpleasantness etc., residents were advised to avoid contact with the travellers.
The issue was discussed at the PC's normal monthly meeting on 8/6. They decided to take vigorous action to tackle the encroachment. A well attended meeting heard reports of the opportunities for legal action against the trespass. This included comments from South Norfolk Council's Gypsy & Traveller Liaison Officer who confirmed that the Parish was handling the situation correctly. SNC's solicitor had also been consulted.
The Parish Council had already delivered letters to all the travellers requesting that they should vacate the site by 10 am on Monday 7th June. This had not happened so at the meeting the Council decided to initiate action immediately through the County Court in Norwich to seek an Order for Possession from the court. It was anticipated that the case would be heard by the end of the following week. If this action was successful and the Order granted this would then be served on the travellers.
It was hoped that the travellers would respond by leaving without any further delay but, if necessary, enforcement action would be required with the grant by the court of a Warrant for Possession which might then involve the use of bailiffs. People at the meeting raised concerns about the potential costs of the process but members of the Council felt they had no alternative.
In accordance with the PC's decision, proceedings were issued in the Norwich County Court on 9th June and on 10th June papers collected from the court showed Friday 18th June as the hearing date. On the same day court documents were served on travellers on the Playing Field with Norfolk Constabulary in attendance.
At the court hearing in Norwich on the 18th before the District Judge the travellers were represented by a barrister but the Parish Council were successful in its claim for an Order for Immediate Possession. A special meeting of the Council was held the same evening and the Court Bailiff was briefed. If the travellers, nine caravans were then on site, did not move voluntarily appropriate enforcement action would take place to remove them from the playing field.
Regrettably, because of these events the annual Village Ball had to be postponed and the venue for the Village Fete changed.
The successful court submission by the Parish Council had the desired effect and the travellers departed without any further action being required. All the caravans had left the playing field by 10.00 pm on Wednesday 23rd June.
Following an appeal on Dentontalk, a number of residents turned up on the Thursday evening to clear up the litter etc. left on the site.
The parish were very fortunate to have excellent voluntary assistance from a qualified solicitor but the incident cost the PC a total of £240.
Following these events on the Playing Field the Parish Council decided to take action to prevent any further similar occurences.
They erected a barrier system of low metal posts and bars at a cost of around £750. A number of residents made a contribution to the costs and helped with the installation.