A Newmarket town councillor has called on the government to stand up to what he called the ‘menace and intimidation’ perpetrated on local communities by travellers.
Cllr James Lay told a meeting of the council on Monday that since travellers had set up illegal camps in Newmarket, Fordham, Burwell and Kennett he had had a series of meetings with some of the individuals and businesses which had been worst affected, including Tesco, Travis Perkins, The Green Man pub in Six Mile Bottom and a private landowner in Fordham.
Cllr Lay told members Tesco had been forced to close early through disruption caused by children of travellers throwing things off the shelves to distract staff.
He said travellers had filled up vehicles at the store’s garage and driven off without paying and Travis Perkins had had £20,000 of electrical hand tools removed from its store while in the Green Man drinks had been ordered and not paid for.
“We have crimes being committed and we are turning a blind eye to it. Intimidation stops us from standing up to people who are threatening our way of life,” said Cllr Lay, added that after travellers had left Newmarket’s St Felix School site it had cost taxpayers £900 a day for security to stop them returning.
“The problem is going from one county to another but it lies beyond our local boundaries and the solution to it lies with the people who govern our country,” he said.
Last week South East Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer raised the issue in Parliament during Home Office questions.
“It is not acceptable that communities are feeling threatened by travellers’ encampments on private land,” she said. “I have been in touch with the police over this issue which is of concern to a great number of constituents. I will continue to press the police and the councils to use the powers available to them as well as press the government to see whether more can be done.”