Travellers occupy Hitchin fields as NHDC considers taking legal action

PUBLISHED: 10:28 31 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:37 31 May 2019

Travellers on St John's Playing Field, Hitchin. Picture: Supplied

Travellers on St John's Playing Field, Hitchin. Picture: Supplied

Archant

Groups of travellers have set up camp in Hitchin, occupying two fields in the town.

Travellers on St John's Playing Field, Hitchin. Picture: SuppliedTravellers on St John's Playing Field, Hitchin. Picture: Supplied

A group on Butts Close off Fishponds Road were first reported on Wednesday night, with Jeanette Thompson, North Herts District Council's service director for legal and community, telling the Comet: "NHDC was notified late on Wednesday, May 29, that a group of travellers have temporarily settled on Butts Close in Hitchin.

"The council, which owns the land, is considering legal proceedings for the removal of the unauthorised encampment."

Then, on Thursday night, a group occupied St John's Playing Field off St John's Road.

Councillor Judi Billing, NHDC's executive member for community engagement said: "NHDC was notified on Friday, May 31, that a group of travellers have temporarily settled on St John's Playing Field in Hitchin.

Travellers on Butts Close, Hitchin. Picture: Haylee LedererTravellers on Butts Close, Hitchin. Picture: Haylee Lederer

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"The Council is considering legal proceedings for the removal of the unauthorised encampment, whilst taking fully into account any health and safety needs of the travellers."

A spokesman from Hertfordshire Constabulary added: "Officers in Hitchin are aware of two traveller groups on land in the town.

"Officers have attended both sites, are liaising with the landowners and continue to monitor the situation.

Travellers on Butts Close, Hitchin. Picture: Haylee LedererTravellers on Butts Close, Hitchin. Picture: Haylee Lederer

"The Safer Neighbourhood Team is continuing to patrol the area.

"We did receive a report of children in a garden at around 7.25pm last night, but no offences had occurred."

This comes after a group of travellers were served an eviction notice from Stevenage's King George V Playing Fields on Wednesday night after Stevenage Borough Council obtained a court order.

A separate group of travellers have also set up camp in a Stevenage field off Lonsdale Road and Webb Rise, near Larwood School.

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