Weston 'fed up' of travellers as hundreds attend protest
PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 August 2017
Westonians 'sick of travellers disregarding' the community launched a protest against a group camped at Baytree Rec.
Hundreds of people attended the social media-organised protest on Sunday and police had to order people to leave, before escorting the travellers away at 10pm.
The travellers moved into Baytree Rec on August 16, and are believed to have caused extensive damage to football pitches used by junior teams, in addition to leaving garden waste and human excrement.
A caravan was also abandoned and later removed by North Somerset Council.
The council had already told the travellers to leave the rec and was set to pursue a court order this week.
The town’s Beach Lawns, Ashcombe Park, Clarence Park and Hutton Moor playing fields have also been occupied by traveller groups this summer.
Following the protest, Weston MP John Penrose promised to ‘speak to ministers and police to see if stronger powers are needed’, adding it ‘can’t go on’.
The protest was organised by Weston man Tony Hobden, who called for changes to the law.
He said: “Weston is sick of people continually breaking the law and having nothing done about it.
“This has nothing to do with travellers. What we don’t like is people blatantly flaunting our law.
“There is a fire in the community’s belly over the inequality, because if I did it I would be arrested but there are no prosecutions.
“These people disregard the public and people are fed up with it.”
Mr Hobden praised the efforts of the police and council, and was pleased violence did not break out.
An Avon and Somerset Constabulary spokesman said: “Despite the numbers the protest remained peaceful and there were no arrests. However the protestors were reluctant to leave even when told that the travellers wanted to move on.
“A dispersal notice was put in place giving officers powers to direct protestors to leave the area.”
The council said a retractable bollard will be installed at the entrance to the recreation ground ‘as soon as possible’.
The authority’s spokesman added: “The council’s contractor Glendale was on site to remove rubbish and items left behind.
“The council has met with representatives from the football clubs who play at Baytree to discuss damage to the pitch.”