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Travellers set up camp on Donnington Recreation Ground in Newbury

A traveller group has set up an encampment on Donnington Recreation Ground.

Around 15 caravans broke a lock to gain access into the site this morning (Friday), which houses a football pitch, cricket pitch and cricket pavilion.

They have said they will leave the land – which is owned by Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council – on Sunday.

The travellers broke in this morning (Friday)
The travellers broke in this morning (Friday)

Thames Valley Police officers have been on site, and could arrest the trespassers and seize their vehicles under new powers in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Act, which created a new criminal offence of residing with a vehicle on land without permission.

The powers can be used when a trespasser has met the conditions of the offence and not left the land when asked to do so without reasonable excuse.

A TVP spokesperson said: “Thames Valley Police is aware of an unauthorised encampment on the Donnington Recreation Ground in Newbury.

“Officers have visited the site and will continue to monitor the situation closely.

They have said they will leave by Sunday
They have said they will leave by Sunday

“A code of conduct has been issued and we will continue to engage with those on the site.

“We are also liaising with the landowners over the encampment.”

The parish council clerk Gillian Durrant said she was hoping the encampment would leave peacefully, but said they were considering all options, including using bailiffs to serve the encampment notice to leave.

It is now a criminal offence under the new law
It is now a criminal offence under the new law

She said: “It seems wrong that parish councils should have to pay a few thousand pounds. Some parishes have such tiny precepts – they don’t have that kind of money.

“With the new law, it seems to me to be what the police should be doing.

“For us, for it to happen on a Friday afternoon, it’s a bit of a shocker.

“It’s such a great shame – it’s the first weekend of the school summer holidays. We spent a lot of money on the new play area and it’d be such a shame if families feel they can’t go and use it.”

West Berkshire ward councillor Steve Masters (Green, Speen) said: “It’s all settled but they’re likely to be here for a day or two.

“Everyone is being very respectful and they’re showing the intent to move on and we are taking them at their word at the moment.

“I’d ask people not to try and inflame the situation and risk additional conflict.

“I would hope we can resolve it amicably and swiftly.

“This highlights the need to make sure we have adequate locations across the district for the travel community.”

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