Council clean up operation at Stevenage travellers site to cost thousands

THOUSANDS of pounds will be spent cleaning up land near a nature reserve after travellers were evicted from a council-owned site on Friday.

North Herts District Council (NHDC) estimate that the work - which has included the deployment of two tractors to haul caravans off the land near Pryors Wood, in Great Ashby, Stevenage, - will cost between �7,000 and �10,000.

Tractors had to be called in to tow vehicles out of the site’s Gresley Way entrance because muddy conditions had made leaving the site difficult.

Work to return the area to its former condition is still ongoing but so far contractors working on behalf of NHDC have cut the grass, collected litter and re-opened the playground.

Regarding damaged caused to the land and surrounding Pryors Wood - a Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust listed nature reserve - a NHDC spokesman said: “The travellers did cause some damage to the ground at Great Ashby, however it is largely surface mud, and therefore the ground should recover over time.

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“There was also some damage to the wild flower meadow, however we won’t know the impact of this on the fauna - butterflies and other insects - until next spring.”

The group of travellers, who arrived at the Great Ashby site on Sunday, September 5, left the area via a police escort on Friday.

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A smaller convoy of around 15 caravans - believed to be some of those moved on from the Stevenage site - were given an eviction order by police on Monday after pitching up in a farmer’s field opposite Kingshott School in Hitchin over the weekend.

The issue has attracted a number of comments from readers via The Comet’s website.

One Stevenage resident wrote: “At the end of it all they are ruining a lovely piece of land and it’ll probably hit the tax payers pocket to clean it up!”

Another resident commented: “I’m writing to express my utter anger at the police during this situation.

“I walk my two dogs there near enough everyday (and) I’m now forced to walk around in human faeces and used toilet paper as the gypsies are taking over a once private park.”

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