United Kingdom

Travellers take over picturesque market town as council bid to evict them is delayed by coronavirus

A traveller encampment has taken over the picturesque town of Bakewell leaving residents furious.

Despite the settlement being illegal, the coronavirus pandemic could stop the local authority from evicting them.

A series of caravans are parked up at the showground in the Peak District town - famous for being the home of the Bakewell Tart.

A traveller encampment has taken over the picturesque town of Bakewell, Derbyshire

A series of caravans are currently parked up at the showground in the Peak District town

A swathe of vehicles have parked up in the field - with washing lines hanging out.

The Derbyshire Dales District Council has served legal papers to evict the illegal Traveller encampment.

But this could be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The council has been trying to evict the illegal encampment for months, but was told it could not do so until lockdown restrictions were lifted.

However after more caravans moved into the showground during the weekend, the council confirmed it was going ahead with the eviction.

It said: 'Now we have prepared an application to the Magistrates' Court to test the strength of this guidance.

'Papers served on the Travellers inform them this is happening.

'However, eviction action will be dependent on magistrates being prepared to hear the case in light of Covid-19 priorities.'

Local residents of the quaint, picturesque town have been left furious by the arrivals

The local council has been trying to evict the illegal encampment for months, but was told it could not do so until coronavirus lockdown restrictions were lifted.

The local authority has now got security staff patrolling the area.

The council's chief executive, Paul Wilson, said: 'We absolutely understand the concerns and anger of the local community about the current situation, but we have to make it clear that we can only act in this matter with the support of the courts.

'We have no authority whatsoever to simply clear the site.

'While it is the landowner's responsibility to secure eviction, not ours, we intend to continue a legal process to remove this unauthorised encampment in the interests of local people.

'We also continue to put a lot of time and effort into securing the site, but anyone who knows Bakewell Showground will appreciate just how difficult this is, and, in this respect, we welcome the support of local police who continue to respond to the perimeter breaches that have happened in recent days.'

Derbyshire Dales MP Sarah Dines said residents had reported a spate of anti-social behaviour.

She visited the site at the weekend to assess the situation.

Ms Dines commented: 'Due to a recent influx of travellers to Bakewell over the past couple of days and reports from residents of an increase in anti-social behaviour and an alleged rise in crime, I visited the site in the glorious sunshine of Saturday afternoon.

Derbyshire Dales MP Sarah Dines said residents had reported a spate of anti-social behaviour

'I am very aware that these issues are of real concern to those living near the site and those using the town centre.

'Whilst all was calm when I visited, I do understand the feelings of locals and that the temperature of these issues often becomes raised at night and people report they are frightened.

'I have asked the police to ensure the town is properly patrolled.

'Over the weekend I have met with and spoken to residents and councillors on this issue - at a social distance - and will continue this week to speak with the authorities to try and find a way forward.

'What is clear is that a permanent site needs to be found as a matter of urgency and the concerns of local residents need to be taken into account.'

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