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Travellers leave Newmarket playing field days after group from site causes chaos at nearby supermarket by threatening to spit coronavirus on customers

Travellers left a Newmarket playing field yesterday days after causing chaos at a town supermarket.

A group of caravans was driven onto the George Lambton playing fields on Wednesday and yesterday left the Fordham Road site, where West Suffolk Council staff have since been clearing the site of rubbish.

At the weekend a Newmarket supermarket was forced to close after a group of teenagers, believed to be from the nearby travellers' site, caused chaos by claiming to have Covid-19 and threatening to spit at shoppers.

Travellers site in Newmarket's George Lambton playing fields, in Fordham Road.
Travellers site in Newmarket's George Lambton playing fields, in Fordham Road.

Staff at Willie Snaith Road’s Tesco Extra shut the store for about 20 minutes on Saturday at around 1.30pm until the police got to the supermarket to move the group away from the queue of people waiting to go into the shop.

Store manager Alistair Thomson, said: “A number of kids, probably about eight to 10, from the site came over and didn’t want to queue to get in to the shop and started shouting and abusing customers saying they had Covid-19 and they were going to spit the virus on them.”

He added: “They were pretty unsavoury and very aggressive to the staff. They tried to run in to the shop.”

A spokesman from Suffolk Police said: “Officers attended and gave words of advice and the group left the location. There were no complaints from any members of the public. A follow up visit to the same location was conducted afterwards.”

Officers had been called to the store more than 10 times in the last week, the spokesman said, and added that police patrols had been stepped up in the area which, as a result of the current pandemic, had been being used regularly by many town residents taking their daily exercise.

West Suffolk Council took legal action to evict the travellers and they left the field yesterday. It had last been illegally occupied in August last year. Then, the Journal discovered padlocks securing the site had been left open with the correct code dialled in.

A district council spokesman said: “We have replaced locks and put in new internal gates since the last time. In order to use the site, and maintain it, we need to enable large vehicular access so we can’t simply install a fixed height restriction as some people have suggested.

“Part of this is also about making sure emergency services can easily access the site should they need to.”

He added: “There is a lockable height restriction barrier and gates between the car park and the grass area. However, it would appear that the locks on both of these have been broken by persons unknown."

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