Heatherside unauthorised encampment leaves as council collects 'truck loads' of litter from site

A councillor says at least two truck loads of rubbish were removed from a recreation ground in Camberley after a large unauthorised encampment left the site. The group, initially made up of 23 caravans and 31 associated vehicles, was handed a notice to vacate by Surrey Heath Borough Council (SHBC) on Friday afternoon (June 26). It asked that the group leave Heatherside Recreation Ground by midday on Monday (June 29).

However, some failed to comply and on Wednesday (July 1) the council said 21 caravans remained at the site. Due to this, a more severe Section 78 notice of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 was obtained and served on Thursday morning (July 2). Following a hearing at Guildford Magistrates’ Court, the council was granted the legal document.

Once passed to group members they promptly left the site by around 9am, a councillor confirmed to SurreyLive. Find out how you can get more news from SurreyLive straight to your inbox HERE. The order means they are not permitted to return for the next three months.

Overflowing bins full of rubbish have been pictured at the site since the group’s departure. There were also piles of litter behind portable toilets that the council had temporarily supplied. Council officers carried out litter picking and tidying at the recreation ground throughout Thursday.

Litter was collected by council workers following the group’s departure

Lib Dem councillor Kristian Wrenn, for the Heatherside ward, said: “They have promptly moved along and within around 10 minutes we had the clean-up crew moving onto the field.

They have been replacing the wooden posts and taking off the [portable toilets].” On Friday, Surrey Heath Borough Commander DI Alick James said that in order for the group to gain access to the site “wooden bollards were damaged” and a man was assaulted, but “not seriously”. He added: “I walked around the site this morning and there was quite a lot of litter.

I would at least expect two truck loads, but it could have been more. There were piles of litter in different stashes, including some green waste.

Heatherside unauthorised encampment leaves as council collects 'truck loads' of litter from siteThe litter left behind close to a portable toilet supplied by the council

“I am very grateful we have managed to get [the court order] through in a timely manner. It was important it happened before Saturday, July 4, as some local businesses will be opening up.

It is really important that they had the confidence to reopen their businesses. “This is a major problem that has been county-wide for so long. What we need to do now is work in finding a proper block for both Heatherside and others across the borough; not the wooden posts we had because that proved to be close to pointless.

Travellers: The facts and figures

Three quarters of the 300,000 people classed as travellers in the UK live in traditional properties rather than caravans.

The remaining quarter live a semi nomadic lifestyle, travelling to fairs and events, according to the charity Friends, Families and Travellers. Of that one quarter, just 3,000 occupy unauthorised land at roadsides across the country at various times, the charity says. The two biggest ethnic groups within this community are Romany gypsies and Irish travellers.

They are classed as an ethnic group under the Equality Act 2010, meaning they are legally protected against race discrimination. The highest concentration of travellers in the country is in the south east of England. The charity is lobbying for more councils to comply with their legal duties to provide authorised travellers’ sites.

The number doing so currently stands at just eight.

“But more than that we need to push the county council to have transit sites.

“It has been quite a long period of time where everyone has been in lockdown and we have only got one park in the area that people can use, so it couldn’t have happened at a worse time for us as a community.”

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