June 15, 2016
Clean-up starts as travellers leave Burnham-On-Sea's BASC Ground

A group of more than 30 travellers camped at Burnham-On-Sea's BASC sports ground finally left the site last night (Tuesday) when police served notice on them.

A notice to leave was served on the group under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice Act at 5pm by armed Police officers, and by 6.30pm the group had left the site.

Eyewitnesses told the travellers were escorted by Police to Edithmead, then onto the M5 northbound, and they were last seen passing Weston.

Piles of rubbish, dogs mess and other waste were left behind, strewn across the fields, and metal bollards for the car boot sales were damaged at a cost of around £1,000. A community clean-up operation is planned for tomorrow.

Pete Lewis, BASC Chairman, told "I am very relieved that they have gone. It has been a very stressful six days."

"It has been a frustrating process to get the notice served by the Police to get them moved, but we are grateful to the local beat officers who always reacted quickly when needed during incidents over the past week."

"I would also like to thank the whole community for their support by logging incidents caused by the travellers with the Police, which helped to provide enough evidence to get the order served."

"A community clean-up session will be held on Thursday evening at 6pm when all are welcome to come down and give us a helping hand in getting the site returned back to normal."

"The toilets have been left in a dire state and there is lots of rubbish, from gas cylinders to nappies and dogs mess, which will all have to be taken away."

"We are concerned that the playing field surfaces may have been damaged too and we'll be carefully checking them over during the next few days to ensure they are safe to use again."

He added: "We are already reviewing security at the site but it's not just as simple as putting a lock on a gate - there are lots of groups who use the BASC ground with individual needs that all need to access."

"I would add that we need a consolidated approach to dealing with travellers in Burnham to ensure this does not keep happening. It's a common occurrence in the summer months which needs to be addressed - and we will be a part of the discussion going forward."

The travellers had been parked on the grassed area near the entrance to the playing fields from Wednesday June 8th until Tuesday June 14th, and police said there had been a "crime increase" in the area.

Chief Inspector Lisa Simpson, Local Policing Commander for Somerset West, told on Tuesday: "We are aware of the concerns of residents, and I want to reassure them that we are working with the private landowners to deal with this complex issue appropriately, proportionately and sensitively. It is important that we endeavour to balance need of landowners, local residents and the travelling community to ensure that this can be resolved to the satisfaction of all."

"I want to assure the community in Burnham that we do take the concerns of residents seriously. We must always ensure that we are acting legally and proportionately in our response to any situation and this requires us to undertake work that might sometimes take time or not be always be publically visible. We must also take into consideration important factors including longer-term problem solving."

Travellers force cancellation of car boot sale at Burnham sports ground


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