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Villagers angry at travellers turning common into 'toilet'
ANGRY villagers say that travellers turned a Hampshire beauty spot into a “public toilet”.
They add that it took the police and the landowners, the National Trust, nine days to evict the travellers from Furzley Common at Bramshaw.
“They were using the bushes as a toilet. The waste was a health hazard,” said Vanessa Stearn who found human excrement next to the paddock where she keeps her horses.
“The mess was just appalling. They had used about 30 different spots as their toilets,” she said.
Mrs Stearn’s neighbour Nigel Challis said he was so concerned that he had reported the matter to New Forest District Council’s environmental health department.
He said: “I am normally sympathetic to the travellers, but when there are people defecating in the bushes and leaving litter all over the area they are criminals.”
Following the travellers’ departure the Trust had to call in a private company to clean up the site.
Dylan Everett the Trust’s operations manager for the New Forest said that the police had been the main stumbling block to moving the caravans on.
Mr Everett said Trust staff sent letters to the travellers telling them they were trespassing. The trust then asked the police to use their powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act to move them on.
“The police said that would be a disproportionate measure at that time,” said Mr Everett.
He said the Trust immediately set civil proceedings in action and that a court date had been set, but the travellers had moved on.
Mr Everett said that in the mean time the Trust was lobbying the police continually to rethink their softly softly approach.
“We acted as quickly as we could, we would have liked the police to act on the Section 61 order to reduce damage to the site.” said Mr Everett.
He said the Trust was unsure if any long-term damage had been done to the common which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and home to many rare grassland and heathland species.
The trespass had left the Trust with a bill of more than £2,500 for the clean-up and legal fees, said Mr Everett.
A police spokesman confirmed that when the officers first attended there were between two and seven caravans on the common and the only damage to the area was an area of scorched grass from a campfire. She said the police had monitored the situation and confirmed “large number of officers” had been involved in the operation to move the travellers on.