The travellers who had been illegally occupying the stretch of Siston Common on Anchor Road left the site today and a clean-up operation began.
Following several visits from South Gloucestershire Council and police, an order was sought under the Criminal and Justice and Public Order Act 1994, granting the power to local authorities to evict travellers refusing to leave an illegal site.
At around noon today, following a peaceful discussion with the council’s traveller unit and police, and after 12 days camped on the site, the travellers left of their own accord.
And tonight they are camped on the overflow railway station car park on the outskirts of Keynsham. The car park has recently been resurfaced and is not even open yet.
Ward member for Siston Cllr Ian Adams said: “We often have issues in Siston around this time of year concerning illegal traveller encampments. Last year we had a similar issue with Siston Common and had measures put in place to prevent that stretch of land being occupied again. This year an illegal encampment has been established across the road where there are no bollards, though still on Siston Common. As always we have acted as swiftly as possible to engage with the police, the local community and the travellers themselves to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and I am now pleased to report that the site is clear.”
Council leader Cllr Matthew Riddle said: “We have a policy to robustly challenge illegal traveller sites in South Gloucestershire. We are not hostile to the travelling community and have made provision for sites throughout the authority. However, we also value our common land and want it to remain available for all local people to use and enjoy and will use all powers available to us to maintain that.
“We strongly believe rules should apply to all people equally and no exceptions should be made for illegal traveller sites. We are planning to review our policy on illegal encampments in the hope of making our responses even quicker and decisive.”
When Taylor Wimpey was granted planning permission to develop the former Cadbury’s factory site at Keynsham, provision of additional car parking spaces for Keynsham Station was one of the conditions attached. The levelling and resurfacing work had suffered some delays but it is understood that the car park was about to open at the beginning of July