TRAVELLERS have set up camp in the car park of a bankrupt DIY store.
The six caravans with various cars and trucks – all believed to belong to the same family – arrived at Focus DIY in Speedfields Park, off Newgate Lane in Fareham on Wednesday evening.
The gate across the car park entrance remained padlocked shut and it is thought they entered by driving across a grass verge from the main road.
Sergeant Amanda Wilson, from the area’s safer neighbourhoods team, visited the site yesterday morning to talk to the travellers.
She said: ‘At the moment the landowner is aware of the situation and they are discussing what they are going to do with it.
‘We have had a lot of travellers around this summer – more than usual – because of the funeral of Ted Smith from the Tynefields site over at Whiteley, but a lot of them have moved on now.
‘They’ve been very pleasant with us and no problem at all. I think they accept it’s private land and will probably go fairly shortly.’
Because trespass is a civil offence it is up to the landowner to take action to remove the travellers.
If the travellers do not move on of their own accord, the landowner will have to apply to the courts for a hearing date.
The court may then agree to an eviction notice. If the travellers remain on site after that date, bailiffs can be sent in.
The Focus chain went into administration in May, with 120 stores closing through to mid-July. The Fareham site has remained empty since its closure but is being marketed for new tenants.
Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council, has taken a tough stance on travellers.
He said: ‘We are doing what we always do in situations like this – we will request politely that the landowner gets them off as soon as possible and we will be letting our own people know as well as any other landowners in the area that they are around.
‘But of course trespass isn’t a criminal offence, so until the Prime Minister agrees with me and makes it one, there’s not much more we can do.’
Cllr Woodward and Fareham MP Mark Hoban will be meeting Bob Neill, minister for communities and local government, next month to discuss the issue.
Rupert Calvocoressi of Lambert Smith Hampton, which is acting as the property’s manager, refused to comment to The News.