Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us Click here for details »
Barriers to keep out travellers removed at Hovefields in Wickford
BARRIERS designed to stop travellers moving back on to illegal plots have been removed.
Heavy machinery was used to remove the earth and rubble barriers and level the land at the junction of Hovefields Drive and Hovefields Avenue, Wickford .
The obstacles were left by bailiffs hired by Basildon Council to evict the travellers and clear the plots in September 2010.
There are still three illegal pitches in the area and 16 legal ones, in and around a number of settled residents’ properties.
Residents fear removal of the barriers could lead to caravans being moved back on to the site, but travellers say these fears are unfounded.
A middle-aged man living locally, who asked not to be named, said: “My concern is why are they spending money removing all the rubble? Is it to move back on again?”
There are still High Court injunctions in place covering the illegal site, which would make it contempt of court and an imprisonable offence if anyone moved back on.
A traveller in the area, who also would not be named, denied people were preparing to breach the injunction.
He said: “I can see why they are worried, but they’ve been told it is only being done to put stables on.
“Some of the land round here has changed hands, but if you own a bit of ground in green belt, you can put a few horses on, even if there is an injunction.
“Everyone knows about these injunctions, so they are not going to risk pulling caravans back on.”
A Basildon Council spokesman said: “Council officers are monitoring the situation.
“At the moment, there have been no planning breaches. This would only be the case if an attempt was made to relay hardcore. The officers were advised the owner is just levelling it off to make a paddock.”
The spokesman would not comment on whether families evicted from Dale Farm , in Crays Hill, could also be entitled to remove the rubble barriers put up there after last October’s eviction.
This week the Environment Agency is due to start tests at Dale Farm to see if the earthworks, ordered by the council’s bailiffs last year, have created a pollution risk to families still living close to the site.