Friday, April 01, 2005
Are you thinking what he's thinking?
CITY RESIDENTS STORM ILLEGAL TRAVELLERS' SITE
BY TOM MACK
10:30 - 31 March 2005
A group of 50 residents, led by councillors and an MP, stormed onto a travellers' site to ask when they were leaving.
More than 150 Hamilton residents had signed a petition to present to Leicester East MP Keith Vaz, asking for his help to get rid of the travellers, who have been on council-owned land off Sandhills Avenue, for six months.
Yesterday, the MP visited the site and trudged through the mud with a large group of residents and onto the site before introducing himself to a woman living in a caravan on the site.
He then read out a list of complaints from residents about the noise, pollution and problems with the travellers' dogs.
The woman said that she did not personally own a dog, adding: "We're not doing no harm. This is our place and it's where we'll stay."
She then walked quickly back to the main group of caravans.
Mr Vaz's visit was prompted by a mysterious hoax planning application published in the neighbourhood proposing a permanent site in Hamilton.
Mr Vaz assured residents there was no city council plan to use the area as a camp and told them the application was a fake.
Mr Vaz told the Leicester Mercury: "There has been a long-running problem with travellers suddenly appearing on this land.
"The ward councillors and I obviously fully support the residents in getting them removed."
Residents said that they used to enjoy quiet walks around the lake at Hamilton. It was also a popular spot for dog-walking and fishing, but now the area has been taken over by the travellers' dogs and horses.
The travellers are accused of polluting the lake with rubbish, as well as causing a rat infestation. The city council is currently involved in a court battle to evict the travellers.
Ramila Shah, 49, of Bellflower Road, who has campaigned against traveller encampments on the site over the past nine years, said: "Twenty years ago, when I moved in, the whole of Hamilton was spotless with not a single piece of litter.
"But the travellers don't seem to care about polluting the area with metal in Hamilton Lake and bin bags and canisters all over the place."
Residents spoke of incidents when ash from burning plastic had stuck to their cars.
The fires are also a problem for the nearby Ismaili Community Centre. Shahed Karim said: "Our ventilation system sucks in the smoke, which makes it unpleasant inside."
theres no where else for them to go, non?
cest tres interessant how that news about permanent planning permission was FAKE! hahahaha thats what got the residents out in the first place.
that pollution is bad though. sometimes its as though there is a ritual bonfire..!
SHAMEFUL OPPORTUNISM THOUGH BY KEITHY!