Travellers’ new camp

Travellers at Walmesley Park, Higher Ince
Travellers at Walmesley Park, Higher Ince

FOR the third time in a fortnight, travellers have set themselves up on land in Wigan,

Even before all the caravans had rumbled onto the fields of Walmsley Park, phone calls were being made by residents to Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust who in turn began proceedings to turf them off again.

Only a few days ago a group of travellers had been ordered to leave land owned by Greater Manchester’s Pension Trust on Challenge Way, Martland Mill. There was a strong police presence as bailiffs followed through a court order issued to the families earlier in the week.

And previous to that travellers had caused outrage by leaving a terrible mess on the playing fields at Robin Park which included mountains of rubbish, a broken TV and human excrement.

That land belongs to Wigan Council but WLCT manages it on the authority’s behalf and so it took responsibility for clearing it up - at taxpayers’ expense nonetheless - so that children could start using the land again afterwards.

As the legal process began again, a trust spokesman would only say: “We are aware of the situation and will be visiting the site with the police to begin legal proceedings.”

An Ince resident, who did not wish to be identified, was less reticent. He said: “My heart sank as I saw the convoy going into the park.

“There are proper sites for these people to use so why do they have to come onto public land where children play.

“I hope to goodness they don’t leave as bad a mess as those folk who were at Robin Park recently. They turned it into a public toilet and rubbish dump: an absolute disgrace.”

Responsibility for enacting legal processes for the removal of illegal camps lies with the land-owner who must go to the civil courts to obtain an eviction order which is then usually served by bailiffs.

The police themselves have powers to remove travellers under Section 6 of the Public Order Act if there is reason to do so if they are suspected of committing any offences.