Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Appeal launched in wake of mess left by travellers

A FUNDRAISING appeal has been launched to help Goring Parish Council meet the cost of evicting travellers from a green space in the village.

Organisers hopes to raise at least £1,000 towards the clean-up of Gardiner recreation ground, off Upper Red Cross Road.

A group of 12 caravans broke into the site and began setting up an illegal camp around lunchtime on Saturday, May 30.

The council, which owns the land, immediately called the police. Officers visited to keep the peace but wouldn’t order the families off so the council paid about £4,500 for a private enforcement agency to move them on three days later.

The site then had to be decontaminated as it was strewn with rubbish including human waste. The council must also review and improve security at its other open spaces so the total cost will be at least £6,000 and perhaps significantly more.

All proceeds from the appeal will be reserved for the protection and enhancement of the council’s green sites, which also include Sheepcot recreation ground, off Gatehampton Road, the White Hills burial ground, off Reading Road, Bourdillon Field behind the primary school and the green space at the end of Ferry Lane.

So far more than 30 people have donated a total of £830 and many praised the council for its actions.

The site is currently sealed off by chunks of rubble. The council has said it is considering making a formal complaint to Thames Valley Police. The force says it handed out leaflets to the families outlining the code of conduct they should follow and the situation wasn’t serious enough to warrant a more forceful approach.

But the council says there were numerous instances of villagers being verbally abused or threatened and the visitors staged a party with loud music on their first night. One of the enforcers was also threatened on the day of the eviction.

Despite having driven over the cricket square and played a game using fence posts as javelins, the travellers didn’t damage the ground too badly because the weather was hot and dry.

Additionally, the cricket season is on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, the council is seeking volunteers to lock and unlock the gates to Sheepcot recreation ground and the Whitehills burial ground each day. Both areas are currently temporarily shut off to prevent travellers from getting in.

The council is considering a schedule of opening times at the sites and would like to hear from residents who might make this possible. Anyone who can help should email clerk@goringparishcouncil.co.uk

The council is also reminding residents that there is pedestrian access to the burial ground via Sheepcot field. Anyone who can’t use this should contact the parish clerk to arrange access via the main entrance.

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