Travellers camped at Creekmoor’s park and ride site will probably be allowed to stay there until the start of the Dorset Steam Fair, local residents and ward councillors believe.
Nineteen caravans and associated vehicles remain on-site, where Borough of Poole has provided skips and toilets.
Shaun Robson, the borough’s head of environment and consumer protection, says officers continue to “manage and monitor” the situation but confirmed no legal action is being pursued to evict the travellers.
While the council does not specifically say the Creekmoor encampment will remain until the end of the month - when the Dorset Steam Fair gets underway at Tarrant Hinton - it did post the following on its official website yesterday: “Previous evictions have not however prompted the travellers to leave Poole, and further evictions are likely to result in more dispersal across the borough.
“It is likely they are heading for the Dorset Steam Fair. Once possession has been regained we will repair the damage to the boundary and re-secure the site.”
Creekmoor ward councillor John Rampton told the Daily Echo residents had interpreted this as Borough of Poole allowing the unauthorised encampment to remain for the next fortnight.
He said: “From the residents’ point of view it does seem as though Poole council is intent on using the park and ride as a traveller site, which is a very insensitive thing to have done because Creekmoor residents have had to go through hell already this year with the temporary stopping place debacle.
“I can only suspect that the borough is happy to allow the travellers to remain until the start of the steam fair.”
Fellow Creekmoor councillor Judy Butt, who has called for Secretary of State Eric Pickles to “pull his finger out and sort out the traveller issue once and for all” concurs with Cllr Rampton. She said: “Residents clearly believe the council has agreed to leave the travellers there until the steam fair.”
Meanwhile Cllr Les Burden, who also represents the Creekmoor ward, agreed. He added: “As a retired international referee I think someone needs to be shown the red card over this.”
Consider the community
Poole's environmental and consumer protection head Shaun Robson explained: “In every case such as this we have to consider the impact that the encampment is having on the local community.
“This is a closed site, so the travellers are not hindering any planned public events or preventing the use of parking or recreational space.
“Should an application for eviction be made now, it is likely to result in further incursions onto open spaces in Poole, as the group has made it clear that they intend to stay in the area.
“However, should the current situation change and evidence of significant detriment to the local community be forthcoming then this would be immediately reviewed and acted upon.”
n FOUR of the caravans and a motor home that had been parked-up at Sterte Esplanade, Poole, pictured below, left the site yesterday.
One caravan remained at the site as the Daily Echo went to press. A skip and a toilet, supplied by Borough of Poole, remain.
Despite spending £40,000 protecting six of the most vulnerable open spaces in Poole, the borough has admitted it cannot ensure they are traveller-proof, Diana Henderson writes.
Ramps were used by travellers to drive over existing defences and get onto Baiter, which was one of the sites whose security was beefed up in the spring. A group also tried to get into Verity Park at Canford Heath earlier in the year but were deterred by the new embankments and left the borough.
So far Broadstone, Brank-some rec, Whitecliff and Haskells rec have not been visited this summer. However, there have been three camps at Baiter since May.
Peter Haikin, the council’s regulatory services manager, said: “None of the new measures have been breached but a group of travellers did access Baiter by using ramps to combat existing defences.
“We have since taken remedial action to strengthen the defences and placed several large boulders in this area.
“The measures we have taken are to protect sites. However, we cannot guarantee this security will not be breached.”
While earth banks and large stones may deter caravans from being driven on to grassland, they do not prevent them getting access to the car park in Catalina Drive at Baiter.
Mike Randall of Parkstone Bay Association said during the last incursion: “There is nothing to deter them from getting into the car park.”
He said the council could have put height barriers at the site. But the council argues that height barriers on car parks prevent lawful use and to “close the car park for legitimate use is disproportionate to the frequency of unauthorised occupation”.
Gates and entrances to the open spaces were improved to enhance security and soil embankments built at Verity Park, Branksome, Broadstone and Baiter recreation grounds.
Residents and school children have scattered wildflower seeds on earth banks to make them more attractive and shrubs and trees will be planted to make it look more natural.
So far this year there have been 14 unauthorised encampments on council land including unprotected Hamworthy Park, the Creekmoor park and ride site, Beach Road car park, the Dolphin Swimming Pool car park and at Fleetsbridge – and one on privately leased land. Court action has been taken on eight occasions.
In November, councillors will review whether their defences have worked.