Calls for more action after further traveller encampments in Warwick District

Cllr Kristie Naimo at Eagle Recreation Ground when the travellers were on site.
Cllr Kristie Naimo at Eagle Recreation Ground when the travellers were on site.

More calls for action have been made following further traveller encampments across the district.

In the last few weeks there have been ongoing issues with travellers setting up camps in Chase Meadow and the Woodloes in Warwick, Bates Memorial Field in Kenilworth, Eagle Recreation Ground in Leamington, Redland Recreational Ground and Othello Avenue in Warwick Gates and Avenue Road Recreation Ground in Lillington.

Drop Bollard at Edmondscote Field.

Drop Bollard at Edmondscote Field.

This week travellers have been on Othello Avenue 
and Avenue Recreational Ground.

Travellers have now been spotted near Ophelia Drive in the Heathcote area.

And this week, Warwick District Council installed timber trip rails, drop bollards as well as new gates and locks on some of the sites.

But Labour councillor Kristie Naimo, who represents Brunswick ward, said more needs to be done to solve the long-term problem.

Steel Knee Rail at The Holt.

Steel Knee Rail at The Holt.

She added: “Many of our councillors have had to deal with these issues this summer, some of them for the first time. We have had 13 different traveller groups in the district this summer - that’s groups - not numbers of unauthorised access, which will be a much higher number.

“Residents are fed up at not being able to use their open spaces and play areas this summer - sadly dog walkers and families feel intimidated in their own communities.

“There is also the important point of hygiene which 
is a major concern in our parks when we have an encampment like this - we don’t have the toilet or litter facilities.”

“Warwick District Council has been working on this Local Plan since 2011 and it’s a government requirement that sites are provided for gypsies and travellers.

Kristie Naimo at Eagle Recreation Ground when the travellers were on the site.

Kristie Naimo at Eagle Recreation Ground when the travellers were on the site.

“The Local Plan is about to be adopted and we still don’t have any sites in place.”

“We understand it has been challenging to find them but does the district or county council own any land they could allocate. Perhaps in the Europa Way area - even temporarily?”

Cllr Andrew Mobbs, Leader of Warwick District Council, said: “Work is ongoing to put in place security measures at all of our vulnerable sites and I was particularly pleased to witness how quickly officers responded to achieve completion of work at Bates Memorial Field.

“Portfolio holder, Cllr Alan Rhead, is committed to finding a site for travellers as soon as possible and has arranged a number of initiatives to achieve this aim. I am sure residents acknowledge that we have to locate a gypsy and traveller site in our district and accept that by so doing we can help eliminate the disturbance that these encampments cause.”

The district council recently approved a budget of just over £170,000 to improve the security of its car parks and open spaces across the district to prevent unauthorised gypsy and traveller encampments.

On Wednesday (August 30) the council announced that work has now been completed at 16 sites across the district.

The work included installing timber trip rails, drop bollards as well as new gates and locks.

Further work has also been planned at more of the sites over the next few months.

Following a recent traveller encampment at the Eagle Recreational Ground in Leamington, new drop bollards and locks have now been installed. These have also been installed at Edmondscote Road.

Trip rails have also installed at The Holt, Cumberland Crescent and Sydenham Central.

Future work, which includes new locks, steel drop bollards and trip rails, is planned for a number of other sites including St Nicholas Park, Redland Recreation Ground and Mason Avenue, Victoria Park, Hatton Park and Myton Fields.

Cllr Peter Phillips, Warwick District Council’s portfolio holder for housing and property, said: “We have put this programme of work in place as a matter of priority to address the concerns of our residents and I am pleased to see that we are making good progress with it.

“We are also reviewing the schedule regularly, so that we can react to any urgent requirements resulting from recent unauthorised encampments in the district.

“In addition to the improved security measures, we are continuing to work with gypsy and traveller communities as well as residents and parish councils to investigate a permanent travellers’ site which will help alleviate the impact on the local community from unauthorised encampments.”