Over the weekend various residents contacted me about their concerns over the sudden appearance of caravans on Eltham Common. I wrote to the Council and was very grateful to receive a reassuring statement from the Deputy Chief Executive this morning which reads as follows:
“The police advise there are two sites with travellers in occupation currently, quite close to each other:
Victoria House, on Shooters Hill, opposite the old police station (former NHS or school premises) – the landowner has already taken steps to remove them which resulted in the bailiffs attending on Friday and being attacked by the travellers, who then barricaded themselves in. A vehicle was damaged and police called. The bailiffs are returning tomorrow with tow-trucks, which they say usually prompts the travellers to leave.
Shooters Hill / Oxleas Wood – the police attended the site several times on Sat and Sun and have served a s61 Notice (Criminal Justice and Public Order Act) which makes it an arrestable offence to remain in the location after a “reasonable” period has been given to leave (also arrestable if they return within 3 months). Initially there were only 6 caravans, of which one occupant said they were planning to leave on Monday and the others on Tuesday. Subsequently many more arrived and that was when the Notice was served (6 being the threshold beyond which the Notice can issued).
The update this morning is that the numbers here have “dramatically reduced” and the site is being monitored by the SNT sergeant, who is of the view that they look like they are all getting ready to leave.”
Although I am seldom the first to sing the Council’s praises, in this particular aspect of their work they are frequently very quick with the appropriate legal paperwork and I am hopeful that the situation will be resolved as soon as possible.
Update End of working day 6th July
The Council have sent through the following update:
“The police have now issued a ‘Section 61’ notice to the group of travellers on Winn’s Common. The notice has been issued on the basis that damage has been caused to the site via the removal of a bollard to gain access, there are more than six caravans/vehicles and the Council does not want them to be there.
The notice requires the travellers to leave the site at the very latest by 4.30 pm tomorrow (Tuesday). Not moving on will constitute a criminal offence and they will be liable to arrest. The police will visit the site at around this time tomorrow to ensure that the enforcement notice has been complied with.
There has been excellent partnership working between the police and parks staff all day – with very positive engagement from police colleagues. Parks staff are on duty until 11 pm tonight and will continue to monitor throughout the evening.
To confirm: Eltham Common has now been completely cleared of around three tonnes of waste that had been left on site. Waste staff are assessing whether any enforcement action can be taken to recover the costs.”
It is nice to praise the Council and be right about it! Possibly a first.