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Residents form 'human barricade' after travellers move onto Branksome Rec
BRANKSOME residents formed a human barricade to stop travellers leaving their recreation ground this afternoon.
Around 15 furious locals stood in front of the fence damaged by the group as they moved onto the rec at lunchtime to prevent a car from leaving again.
However, Dorset Police officers who attended the incident told residents that they were unable to prevent cars from arriving or leaving.
Less than 90 minutes after the arrival of the group, residents claimed they saw a child no older than six holding a hunting knife.
Poole mayor, Councillor Phil Eades, called the situation “frustrating”, adding: “Residents are obviously concerned.
“The travellers have trespassed onto public property. People are really quite worried.”
The councillor also rounded on police as they advised the public to move aside to allow cars through, telling officers: “You're assisting them.”
It is believed the travellers are part of the same group evicted from Riggs Garden, Turbary Common on Thursday.
The council obtained a High Court Writ of Possession yesterday and High Court bailiffs saw the travellers off the site this afternoon. One caravan was loaded onto a lorry and removed.
Deputy Leader, Councillor Nicola Greene, said: “A clean up crew has made the area safe and is in the process of clearing the site.
"I would like to reassure residents that Bournemouth council is doing absolutely everything it can to deal with unauthorised encampments to ensure that they are inconvenienced as little as possible.
"We continue to liaise with the police and neighbouring authorities to share intelligence of when travellers are in the area.”
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Frank Wenzel, licensing team manager from the Borough of Poole, said: “Twelve caravans and three motor homes accessed Branksome Recreation Ground this afternoon after a section of metal barrier had been moved.
“We are aware that this group of travellers have recently occupied other sites in Poole, so we have started the legal process straight away to obtain an eviction order. We will be regularly monitoring the site over the weekend with the aim of minimising any impact on local residents.”
Iris Coe, 75, was the first to spot the travellers as she was walking her dog on the rec.
She stood in front of the caravans to stop them from driving onto the land, but was forced back.
She said: “I stood in front of the van and they just drove at me. I had to keep backing up. There are usually lots of dog walkers around but when they arrived there wasn't a soul around.”
Alderney councillor Lindsay Wilson said the unauthorised encampment was “outrageous”.
“I saw one youngster who couldn't have been older than six holding a huge knife like a dagger,” she said.
“It just seems to be a game of cat and mouse.”
Dawn Sargeant, 44, said she would be too worried to let her children play on the rec while the travellers are there.
“We work hard to keep this area nice, so it's really frustrating,” she said.
Jacqui Wilson, chair of the residents' association, called the invasion “blatant”, and said: “We have done an awful lot of hard work on this rec to improve it.
“It's upsetting to see that this has happened.”
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