As residents may be aware, there is currently an encampment of 5 caravans on the Clifton upon Dunsmore playing fields. These caravans are lived in by three families, originating from Galway in Ireland, where, we are told, the children are schooled, and that the families are travelling to England during the school holidays.
Having now been out to visit the encampment twice, the Chair and Vice Chair are reassured that the travellers do not pose a threat to residents, and have a responsible and reasonable approach. The playing fields have been kept clean and tidy and the caravans are in good condition. One of the ladies on the encampment is heavily pregnant and is due to be delivered by C Section on Monday 22 August. We understand that one caravan is returning to Galway on Monday and that the group will not expand.
The playing fields are owned by the village and, as such, the Parish Council is responsible for the removal of the travellers. The Parish Council has today taken advice from Rugby Borough Council Environmental Protection Team and has attended a very useful meeting with Warwickshire Police’s Gypsy Traveller Liaison Officer in order to gain insight into the issues and costs behind illegal encampment and eviction.
Advice has led the Parish Council to understand that removal can be achieved in a number of ways, all of which take time to achieve. We are advised that the courts are unlikely to grant an eviction order whilst one of the ladies is heavily pregnant or has just given birth.
The Parish Council have agreed therefore to take a pragmatic and positive approach, and have secured an undertaking from the travellers that they will vacate the site by Sunday 28 August. They have been made aware that should they not comply a 24 hour notice will be served and that they will be evicted by bailiffs.
Whilst the travellers are on the playing fields, the Parish Council is making arrangements for household rubbish produced on the site to be stored and collected and for the site to be deep cleaned once it is vacated.
We recognise that there are lots of anxieties attached to this situation. We would like to assure villagers that the police are remaining watchful of the situation. We would urge all residents to remain vigilant, and immediately report any issues to them by dialling 101; but not to prejudge the travellers. This is the first occasion that an illegal encampment has occurred within the parish, which has, as a consequence, caught the Parish Council and its residents unawares. Please be assured that plans are being made to improve security so that entry cannot be made into the playing fields once the travellers have vacated the site.