Fordham landowner describes ‘nightmare’ encounter with travellers

Travellers parked up in Willie Snaith Road Newmarket.
Travellers parked up in Willie Snaith Road Newmarket.
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A Fordham landowner has described his encounter with travellers who parked illegally for five days on his land, as ‘a nightmare’.

The man, who asked his name not be used for fear of repercussions, claimed he was assaulted and threatened by the travellers, who are currently camped in the car park of an empty office complex in Newmarket’s Willie Snaith Road, after he tried to shut the gate on to the site.

“Two caravans got on to the field late on Wednesday but I saw the rest of the convoy heading up the road and managed to lock the gate,” he said.

“One of the travellers gave me a shove and said if I didn’t unlock it there would be consequences. I wasn’t going to risk my life so I unlocked it”, he said.

He called Cambridgeshire Police but claimed he was told there were only five officers available in East Cambridgeshire and they could not help him.

He has since demanded meetings, which have now been set for next month, with Cambridgeshire’s Police Commissioner Jason Ablewhite and South East Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer.

“As a private landowner I had to get the bailiffs in and deal with cleaning up the field all at my own expense,” he said. “I am just a tenant farmer who hasn’t got the thousands of pounds these shocking people have cost me.”

The travellers’ group, which has 25 to 30 caravans and other assorted vehicles, took over the parking area in front and alongside the empty office building in the King’s Court commercial estate, near Newmarket’s Tesco superstore, on Friday.

A spokesman for Bidwells of Cambridge, marketing agents for the Portugal-based owner of the property, which was occupied until about six months ago by Cameron Flow Control Technology (UK) Ltd, said their client would be taking the necessary legal action to remove the travellers from his property.

“Unfortunately, these people seem to know their rights to the letter of the law and if they are served a notice to leave in 14 days, they will wait until late on the thirteenth day and then be gone,” he said.

In the past fortnight the travellers have been thrown out of the grounds of the former St Felix Middle School in Newmarket’s Fordham Road, after which they moved to Fordham.

Evicted from there at the end of last week they then invaded the Kennett and Kentford playing field where they stayed for two days causing the cancellation of the village soccer team’s weekend match and a car boot sale because of the state the playing field had been left in.

At St Felix, it was estimated the clean-up operation would cost local taxpayers up to £10,000. In Fordham, the total cost of the eviction, cleaning and securing the site against further invasions, plus the lost income from a cancelled car boot sale also ran into thousands of pounds.