At around 0930 on Tuesday 23rd August I received a telephone call from a gentleman walking in the park who asked if we were having a Fun Fair this year. I said we were not and wondered why he was asking.
He told me a large number of vehicles and caravans were entering the park from Whitehill Lane and were parking on the area between the plantation and Bristol Road South. I was horrified; my worst fears were borne out by further callers with similar reports throughout the rest of the morning.
The Travellers had arrived on Manor Farm Park. Unlawfully. Uninvited. Unwanted and undesireable.
I had visions of building rubble, dumped haphazard in the undergrowth between the trees and on the uncut verges; large (and small) areas of burnt off grass from open fires; mounds of food, cooked and uncooked, thrown unwanted, all over the area populated by these people. Also, let us not forget the amounts of litter that has to be removed, once they depart.
This link shows evidence of the mess left in Cofton Park by the travellers.
Fortunately for Manor Farm Park, Sgt., Padmore and his colleagues from the local Police Station moved the 40 or so vehicles off the park within hours. My wife Caroline and I cleared up all the litter following the departure of the travellers; by dusk on the same day, one would never have known, without being told, that there had been an incursion at all.
The only concern now, of course, is how quickly and efficiently the Parks Department are prepared to act. It is obviously a matter of urgency that a repeat of the invasion on 23rd August should be prevented at all costs.
History tells us that once the travellers gain a foothold, it can prove very costly to remove them.
Secretary (FoMFP): 24/08/2011