Bretton ward councillor Chaz Fenner has expressed his disappointment at the police response to the recent Traveller encampment set up at Bretton Park.
On Sunday (July 24), the group moved on from the park having arrived the previous Monday (July 18). They moved on after the city council served them with a Section 77 notice ordering them to leave the site.
The council sent three crews to carry out a clear-up of the site on Monday (July 25) after a large amount of rubbish was left behind. While, Cllr Fenner praised these crews, he says he was left “disappointed” with the response of police for not exercising new powers given to them by the government this year to move on illegal camps.
He said: “I was really disappointed with the police and want to know why those on the site were not confronted. I know that in places such as Milton Keynes, this kind of thing is not tolerated and police have moved to act within 24 hours to move these people on. If it’s a case of officer numbers, they were able to bring in 42 officers to support the felling an oak tree in the ward but what not for this?
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"The truth is that we don’t want them there. When they were there, families told me that they had been threatened and that they were too afraid to let their children go and play in the park.
"Nearby business owners also told me how they had had staff intimidated and threatened. It really is horrendous. The local Sainsbury’s have had to spend over £1000 and have had some of the worst of the problems, human excrement was left all up the walls and on the celling.”
This is the second time in less than three months that a group of Travellers has moved onto the park. It is believed that, this time, the group gained access to the park by breaking down a wooden fence. The previous time, a gate was left unlocked and since, a concrete block has been placed to prevent access.
Cllr Fenner has confirmed that after the latest encampment, plans are in place for more blocks to be placed right around the access to the park.
When asked about their response to the situation, Cambridgeshire Police said: “We were made aware of people trespassing without consent on land in Bretton Park last week. Officers worked with the council to respond and they moved on after a few days.
“As set out in national guidance on legislation under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Act 2022, we respond appropriately to cases based on the individual circumstances.
“This includes balancing considerations as to whether the alleged trespassing meets the threshold of ‘causing, or likely to cause, significant damage, disruption or distress’, alongside the potential impact taking enforcement action may have on families involved or other vulnerable people.
“We agree the most appropriate course of action with the council and landowner, with due regard to the impact on the landowner and wider community.”