Around 10-12 traveller's caravan and other vehicles entered Alderley Edge Park by removing the barrier post with a towing rope at the Ryleys Lane car park entrance at around 1830 this evening.
Whilst this piece of criminal damage was witnessed the remainder of the group have now taken up positions around the bandstand and children's play area in the park. The police visited the site and left at around 1930.
Craig Browne, our Ward Councillor, has reported the incident as part of our Parish Council Standard Operating Procedure to the gypsy and traveller team under their reference HS 219647086.
Whether the Police press charges for criminal damage or not it is unlikely that we shall see any move away from the park by these travellers for a few days. Indeed, it is now the policy to leave traveller encampments in position during the Covid-19 pandemic for the safety of the general public and travellers alike.
This mirrors the situation that recently took place in Wilmslow. More will become clear about the future intentions of the group when they are visited by the Cheshire traveller team tomorrow when they carry out their welfare assessment which is a mandatory procedure.
Once the reason for the visit has been ascertained (traveller groups often move because of a sick individual needing medical help or perhaps a pregnancy) the duration of their stay will be negotiated.
The Parish Council are mindful that toilet facilities in the village are limited due to Covid -19 restrictions so are preparing to introduce hired toilet facilities into the park to limit the amount of 'soiling' in undergrowth and behind hedging.
We are concerned to avoid the size of clean up operation that occurred a year ago when a wider variety of toilet options were available in the village. The provision of toilet facilities is often a useful bargaining tool in agreeing a departure date but we feel that we may have to forego this tool in the overall interests of public hygiene. Washing and shower facilities may have to play their part instead, at a later date, - depending on the length of stay.
I must point out to our residents that there is no speedy solution to the situation. The Parish Council are well briefed and will follow the sequence of events that must be followed by law
(Criminal Justice and Public Oder Act 1994 and 2003). We are well advised by the excellent traveller's team who have a wealth of experience in these matters.
Residents sometimes feel the need to express their anger and frustration by shouting abuse at the travellers. This has never been effective and simply creates a breakdown of any trust we will be trying to nurture in settling a departure time. Others will seek to run down the efforts of the police, the †raveller's team and the Parish Council through social media. That too is a somewhat fruitless exercise as we are all bound by the law and we can only move at the speed the law will allow.
Every parish councillor has their contact details posted on the Parish Council website and I would ask you to contact any one of us for help and advice. We all understand how frustrating this is, especially for our children who have now been robbed of a safe place to play. We will work together with outside advisers and authorities to carefully negotiate a successful outcome with the travellers and return the park in a clean and safe condition for the benefit of everyone in Alderley Edge.
If you feel that we should be doing more, I would be pleased to hear your suggestions and invite you to write to me or telephone me at any time. My contact details are available on our website.
Chairman of Alderley Edge Parish Council
Email : [email protected].