Council securing Sidmouth site to stop travellers returning

Caravans arrived at Long Park, Sidmouth, on Sunday. Picture: contributed

Caravans arrived at Long Park, Sidmouth, on Sunday. Picture: contributed - Credit: Archant

Measures will be taken ‘as soon as possible’ to prevent travellers returning to a scenic Sidmouth spot after it was illegally occupied this week.

Residents have been praised for quickly reporting the presence of the French visitors, who reportedly left Long Park of their own accord after just four hours.

The police have urged landowner Sidmouth Town Council to secure the site before word spreads among the traveller community and it is investigating installing bollards.

Town clerk Christopher Holland told Monday’s council meeting: “At approximately 5pm, Long Park was occupied by a number of French travellers. I was notified by a number of councillors and members of the public.

“We have a set procedure. I’m very grateful to the police for assisting. The first thing to do is to let them know they are on the land illegally. They were in a mood to negotiate and left of their own accord.

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“We’ve been advised as property owners that we need to secure the site. Once sites are known, they tend to be earmarked, and it’s a lovely location. Police assure me we need to do this as quickly as possible.”

Mr Holland said the travellers had moved on to Budleigh Salterton, and it was a ‘shame’ they had caused some damage, but his priority is Sidmouth.

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Councillors gave him the authority to take the necessary steps to secure the site using cash held in reserve for maintenance of Long Park.

Mr Holland will look at installing the same style of bollards that are in place at the Ham, which can be removed to grant access as needed.

Councillor John Rayson said: “It looked like it was going to be an ugly incident. They appeared to intimidate some walkers. It’s marvellous it was dealt with so quickly.”

Cllr Marc Kilsbie thanked Mr Holland and the police for intervening, adding: “I would like to thank the community and residents up there.

“Within one minute of the travellers moving onto Long Park, there were photos on social media.

“We couldn’t fail to notice we had something to deal with.

“Well done, Sidmouth.”

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