Travellers occupy two sites in Letchworth

Travellers on Icknield Way in Letchworth

Travellers on Icknield Way in Letchworth - Credit: Archant

Travellers are occupying two sites in Letchworth which are less than two miles apart.

The first group, which consists of around 10 caravans and other vehicles, arrived at North Herts District Council’s former depot site in Icknield Way on Tuesday night.

The site is owned by NHDC who are currently in talks with the group about leaving the site.

A nearby resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “They just suddenly arrived on Tuesday night.

“At first we didn’t know what was going on but we heard a lot of noise and went to investigate.

“There might only be 10 caravans there now but it’s a big site and it won’t be long until they are more.”

Another group of around 15 caravans as well as cars and vans arrived at the empty former GW King factory on Blackhorse Road last Monday.

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The site has been repeatedly targeted by vandals since the car parts manufacturer closed in 2008, but an application submitted by developer Barratt Homes to build 159 homes there is due to be discussed by North Herts District Council on September 11.

Herts police say the landowner of the site is currently in talks with the travellers and is in the process of getting an eviction order through the courts.

Councillor Bernard Lovewell, responsible for housing and environmental health issues at the district council, said: “A group of travellers have settled over the bank holiday weekend at the old GW King site in Letchworth and we are continuing to liaise with the landowners and Herts police.

“A small number of travellers have also gained access to land on Icknield Way, Letchworth. As the council is the landowner we are currently reviewing the options to ensure the travellers are moved on as quickly as possible, while also bearing in mind their immediate welfare needs.

“We would like to reassure local residents that we are working with the police and actively monitoring both situations as they evolve.”

Occupying an industrial unit is a civil offence under common law and the travellers can only be forced off the site if the owner obtains an interim possession order giving occupiers 24 hours to leave otherwise they will be breaking the law.

The Comet has been unable to contact the owners of the Blackhorse Road site.