It has happened again! Travellers have returned to Birchenwood Car park in Kidsgrove for the 3rd time in a matter of months.
The travellers arrived on Sunday evening at around 7.30pm driving onto the car park and setting up home for what will realistically be the next week at least, give the speed at which Newcastle Borough Council acts over these issues. They will no doubt be served with the 24 hours notice to leave today, which will be ignored and the council will have to spend money applying for a court hearing to get a court order approved. This all costs money, just like the clear up process following their visit which comes direct from the pockets of the tax payer.
It is not being political when we ask questions of our council. Why are the same elected members allowing this to happen time after time, when installing a height restriction barrier could be effective in preventing entry?
Travellers have now been given until the 10th August to leave the site as a result of one being due to give birth and requiring a fixed address. This meant that the magistrate would grant the order for the 10th August at the earliest. The council are not commenting on how much it is / will cost to clean up the site or what they will do in the future to stop them getting access back onto the site.
It has also angered local residents how Newcastle Borough Council have been very quiet throughout this whole saga, something which should not be forgotten when going to the ballot box. One way to "hit" at the council is to fill in this form on elections requesting the Newcastle Borough Council retain the current 1/3 elections of the council, meaning your councillors can't get elected and then hide away for 4 years until election time.
It has also been suggested by some residents that their should be a mass protest in not paying council tax to Newcastle Borough Council. This is a strategy that could be successful IF done in numbers, however this is one to be organised by the world of social media no doubt.
Update 31/07/14 (Statement from Newcastle Borough Council and Staffordshire Police
Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council and Staffordshire Police are reassuring residents that all possible measures are being taken to minimise any problems caused by the travellers’ temporary encampment at Birchenwood Park, in Kidsgrove.
Earlier this week a judge at Stoke on Trent Court ruled that the earliest date the council can legally evict the travellers is Sunday 10 August. This is because one of the women on the site is due to have a Caesarean operation early next week and needs a permanent home for a short time after the birth.
In the meantime, council and police officers are carrying out various actions to make sure that the site is kept safe and clean and that disruption for local residents is kept to a minimum.
The travellers are currently complying with a code of conduct on the site and are bagging any rubbish for collection by the council. Environmental health officers have carried out regular welfare checks and basic cleansing exercises are keeping waste issues under control. There is no evidence of fly tipping and little evidence of litter.
Officers are currently working with the organisers of a planned Ladsanddads Football fund-raising event, due to take place at Birchenwood on 17 August to make sure that it can go ahead as planned.
The council can legally take back control of the site a week before the tournament and hopes that the football pitches will still be in good condition and useable. However, contingency plans are being put in place for an alternative venue, if that is not the case.
Cllr Mike Stubbs, Leader of the Council, said, “The council has acted as quickly as possible to evict the travellers with the powers available to us through the courts, but the law is the law and we will obviouslycomply with the judge’s ruling.
“In the meantime I can reassure residents that we are doing everything we can to make this situation manageable for all concerned.”
Chief Inspector Clare Riley, Newcastle Borough Local Policing Team Commander, said: "We're aware of the travellers at Birchenwood and we're working with colleagues from Newcastle Borough Council towards a solution.
"Officers are carrying out regular visits to the site and have also responded to residents’ concerns over anti-social behaviour involving off-road vehicles in the surrounding area. A number of Section 59 warnings have been issued which will allow us to seize any vehicles involved in further anti-social behaviour.
"We will continue to carry out regular patrols in the area as part of our ongoing summer holiday operation to tackle anti-social behaviour in any form.
"If you have any concerns, or to report an incident, please contact local officers on 101,"