Travellers' bid to reclaim land thwarted

By James HoreA COUNCIL has successfully prevented a group of travellers from returning to the land from where they were evicted.Some of the families tried to reclaim the site in Little Waltham on Saturday, but were thwarted by roadblocks and large dirt banks surrounding the field.

By James Hore

A COUNCIL has successfully prevented a group of travellers from returning to the land from where they were evicted.

Some of the families tried to reclaim the site in Little Waltham on Saturday, but were thwarted by roadblocks and large dirt banks surrounding the field.

It had been feared the attempt to return to the site could have led to a repeat of the violent scenes that took place in January when bailiffs hired by Chelmsford Borough Council evicted the travellers from the land, which they had been occupying illegally.

Although the travellers bought the land and stayed there from 2001, they were unable to secure planning permission from Chelmsford Borough Council to occupy the site permanently, which led to the £100,000 eviction.

After being informed of the travellers' intention to return, the council went to the High Court on Friday and obtained an injunction preventing any of the families from unlawfully putting caravans on the site.

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On Saturday, concrete roadblocks were put up in the lanes surrounding the Cranham Road site and about 10 security personnel - hired by the council - were ready for the possible confrontation.

A small group of travellers made a symbolic attempt with spades and their hands to clear a route through the huge mudbanks surrounding the site, but there was no concerted effort to reclaim the site.

Grattan Puxon, the secretary of the Roma Federation, said the council's actions were "over the top".

He added: "One of the travellers, Kathy Buckland, went away very unhappy because she had hoped to get back get back in her caravan and back to her land to have her baby there and wanted her older children to get back into the local school.

"We feel the council has been very, very over the top in all of this and we will be challenging the High Court injunction."

A statement issued by the council said: "As owner of one of the plots, Kathy Buckland is entitled to access the site, but because no planning permission has been obtained, it remains illegal for anyone to park caravans or otherwise develop the site.

"Chelmsford Borough Council has sought, throughout this episode, to balance the needs of local residents with those of the travelling community."

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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