BESIEGED residents in Peterborough have spoken out after being plagued for months by a group of homeless immigrants who have set up camp in their back gardens.
Residents in Lincoln Road have seen their sheds become makeshift homes to a dozen Eastern European rough sleepers for the last four months.
Six gardens, accessible to the main road through an open alleyway, now show the distinctive sign of housing settlers, who have made themselves at home by scattering cider bottles, bags with faeces and even used drugs needles in the yards.
The trespassers have made their residency permanent by distributing mattresses and sleeping bags covered in filth between sheds to provide makeshift beds.
However, police cannot arrest them because trespassing is a civil matter and they can only ask them to leave.
Furious homeowner Ian Treasure (41) said: “The area has become overrun and it is disgusting. Nobody is doing anything about it. It all started in November. I was just looking out the window and I saw a mattress in my coal shed. I went out and it turned out I had a lodger there.
“He can speak broken English and he said his name is Joseph, he’s from the Czech Republic and he’s fallen on hard times. I do have some sympathy for him, but don’t understand why his problems mean I have to put up with having a homeless person living here.
“He looks very ill – he has scabs all over his face and is obviously very frail. Joseph has been there since then, although I’ve asked him to leave dozens of times. He doesn’t seem to care and he’s back every night.
“There are a whole group of Eastern European people living in our gardens. Every day it gets worse – I only noticed that someone seems to have moved into a tree in one of the gardens today.
“The angriest I have got was the first time I saw drug needles there in January – I freaked out. It’s one thing to have people on your property but I do not want that sort of thing on my doorstep.
“I told him about the free one way flights they are offering homeless immigrants but he said he has no passport. I think he just wants to stay though.”
“I’m not sure how many there are because I try to stay away from them. Including their friends, who regularly visit and drink in the gardens there must be about a dozen in total.
“I have contacted the council five or six times but they have never got back to me. They came to take photos one time but nothing ever happens.
“I’ve not talked to the police. I consider this to be a political problem. The police’s hands are tied – all they can do is just move them on, and then they would be back so it would be a waste of time.”
His neighbour Ricky Smith (23) took a more direct approach to removing the squatter in his shed after reaching the end of his tether on Wednesday night.
Mr Smith said: “I slung all his belongings into a pile and told him to get out. I haven’t seen him since so hopefully he has got the message.
“I caught him defecating on my lawn, where my dog Rooney plays. I had to build a fence to keep him out of that part of the garden so my dog doesn’t get ill playing in his mess.
“It says it all that a human needs to be fenced off from an animal.”
Mr Treasure added: “I used to have barbeques on the lawn here but that’s not going to happen this year. How can you do that if there are drug users and god knows what else living here.
“I want a gate to be put on our alleyway and keys given to residents, but the council don’t seem interested in helping. So I guess I’ll have to pay for it myself.
“I’ll also have to pay for a skip because they won’t help me remove the rubbish – there is enough furniture between the gardens to furnish four houses, if you could overlook the smell.
“It’s basically going to cost me a small fortune to get rid of these people, and I feel a bit let down that nobody seems interested in helping us get our neighbourhood back to the way it used to be.”
A spokesperson for the city council said: “We are aware of a number of people who are sleeping in these gardens. We will be working to help them access the services which are available to them.”