Thursday, 27 May 2010

Defiant residents stop gipsy invasion by digging trenches and taking to the streets

Housing estate residents went to drastic lengths to stop invading gipsies - by digging trenches and taking to the streets to prevent access.

Eventually, police were forced to intervene as simmering tensions between travellers and tenants threatened to boil over amid the scenes of mayhem.

A dozen squad cars descended on the estate in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, where scores of angry locals fetched spades and dug a trench across the access road to stop caravans entering a nearby field.

During the battle, which followed weeks of increasing friction, resident Mandy Greenshields claimed a traveller vehicle tried to ram her car after she used it to block off the entrance.

Others said they were abused by gipsies and only police intervention stopped the dispute from turning to violence.

Miss Greenshields took direct action after watching three caravans enter the land owned by South Derbyshire District Council.

She said: ‘I tried to block them off by parking my car in front of the entrance, but one of them in another vehicle made as if to ram me. Then the police turned up.

‘Everybody was in uproar and it looked as though there was going to be a fight at one point because the travellers were urging the residents on. If the police hadn't got here, things would have got out of hand.’

Two further caravans managed to get onto the field via a different entrance, before the travellers left - to cheers from residents -after more than two hours of negotiations with police.

Karen Collier said: Police had blocked the road off and there were queues of people trying to get in to get home. It was absolutely manic. There were police cars everywhere.

‘We all came out as a community because we don't want the travellers here. We wouldn't mind if they were the old-style gipsies who cleaned up after themselves, but the mess they leave and the abuse you get from them is terrible.’

Sergeant Adrian Pegg, from Derbyshire Constabulary, said: ‘Our officers met a group of very angry residents determined that the travellers were not going to stay there.

‘Police attended to prevent a breach of the peace, as we have no powers to remove travellers once they have accessed land.’

Police parked one of their vehicles in front of the second entrance to the site to prevent the travellers returning, and were yesterday due to discuss the issue with the district council, to see if permanent barriers could be erected.

Meanwhile, residents were due to hold a meeting in the street last night to discuss the problem, with police and council officers expected to attend.

Daily Mail Online

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