Travellers at Port Solent leave site before court hearing

TRAVELLERS who descended to Port Solent last week have now left after jumping before they were pushed – and been warned it is a criminal offence for them to return within three months.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 4:20 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 5:10 pm
Travellers set up camp on field opposite Port Solent car park on 27 April 2021

The travellers were due to appear before Portsmouth magistrates this morning but made a hasty exit before their appearance.

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The convoy of nomads turned up at the site by Marina Keep late on April 26 after it is thought they gained entry after vandalising the security barriers using a disc cutter.

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Travellers set up camp on field opposite Port Solent car park on 27 April 2021

They were then seen ‘tearing along’ the grass and doing handbrake turns.

In the days that followed residents have complained of fly-tipping, a car being burnt and vandalism – with ‘intimidation rife’ and ‘tensions running high’.

Children were said to be on motorbikes and adults on quads bikes with rubbish, including dirty nappies, left strewn across the land.

After one resident attempted to take a video he was confronted. ‘I was approached by one of them who was going to punch my face off,’ he said.

A spokeswoman for Portsmouth City Council said: ‘Last week community wardens served the court paperwork to all those that remain on the land at Port Solent as part of the unauthorised encampment.

‘The hearing was due to be held on Tuesday with the council seeking to obtain an eviction notice to enable us to remove the remaining people from the land.

‘However all vehicles have now left the site and the city of Portsmouth prior to the court hearing. Therefore a court hearing will no longer take place, but the vehicles that had been served section 77 notices will be committing a criminal offence if they return to the site within three months.’

A police spokeswoman added: ‘We were aware of an unauthorised encampment which had been situated on land to the rear of the multiplex cinema at Port Solent.

‘We are also aware of some reports of anti-social behaviour at the site over the weekend and have been working with the landowner whilst they sought removal of the trespassers through the appropriate court process.

‘Officers attended the site this morning (Tuesday) and found that the occupants had vacated.’

Police, community wardens and Tony Hewitt, Paulsgrove Conservative candidate for the upcoming local elections, attended the site last week.

Mr Hewitt said last week: ‘There is a lot of concern and upset from locals. If it is the same group as last year they caused a lot of damage.

‘Quad bikes were ridden through the memorial gardens, a ton of rubbish was left and human waste dumped and the gate busted.

‘The clear up last year cost about £10,000 and the new barrier cost £2,500 - yet they are still back on the field.

‘It is sad because it is a community space that people have only recently been starting to enjoy for picnics and walking.’

Clear-up costs and repairs to the barriers last year cost the taxpayer around £13,000 with it feared the illegal encampment at the Portsmouth City Council-owned land could prove another expensive stay. It is not yet known what the cost of the damage is this time.

Businesses on The Boardwalk at Port Solent just starting to get back on their feet after lockdown were also anxious after a number of incidents last year at the waterfront destination.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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