Village has to clear up after travellers

By Roddy AshworthVILLAGERS are to help a farmer clear huge amounts of rubbish, scrap metal and debris left behind by about travellers who camped illegally on his field.

By Roddy Ashworth

VILLAGERS are to help a farmer clear huge amounts of rubbish, scrap metal and debris left behind by about 100 travellers who camped illegally on his field.

Farmer Ben Goodwin initiated legal action against the travellers when they occupied his two-acre field in Little Bentley, last year's winner of the Best Kept Small Village in Essex.

At first six caravans arrived two weeks ago, but they were soon followed by another 25.

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Essex Police told Mr Goodwin they could do nothing to move the travellers on from his farm because they were on private land, so Mr Goodwin applied for a notice of eviction and the case was due to be heard yesterday.

But the travellers left the site on Sunday evening, leaving a huge amount of rubbish behind.

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Liz Haggard, a member of Little Bentley Parish Council, said the field had been left in a terrible state.

“They camped on Mr Goodwin's field, which for years and years has been used by the whole village. Children played on there and people walked their dogs. Now it is just trashed. It is absolutely horrible,” she said.

“There is human excreta all over the place, gas bottles and rubbish. We are a very small community and we feel as though we have been invaded and polluted.”

Mrs Haggard said it had been particularly frustrating for villagers because it seemed as if the law did not apply to the travellers.

“If you or I tipped raw sewage into a ditch, the environmental people would be down on us like a ton of bricks and we would be fined. But these people seem to get away with it,” she added.

“In the old days gipsies were about, but they used to clear up after themselves. This is very different.”

Mrs Haggard said people in the village, which has a population of about 200, were going to pull together to help with the clean-up.

“We normally have an annual litter clear-up, but this will be a little different. There is something dreadfully wrong with a system that allows a group of people to behave in such an anti-social manner,” she added.

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