Residents mount 24 hour vigil to block travellers invading RAF Locking

June 16, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

Residents living on a former RAF base have set up a round-the-clock blockade to prevent travellers from invading the site.

The Locking Parklands estate in Somerset has become a haven for travellers because of its 100 acres of unspoiled grasslands.

Homeowners have brought in 10 tons of stone to barricade all entrances to the former RAF Locking site near the seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare.

They are now mounting a 24-hour guard at the front gates to keep out travellers who have flocked to the coast during the summer months.

One group illegally set up camp there last weekend and police had to be called out after an altercation with residents left one man injured.

It is alleged that a traveller in a transit van drove at the gate, pushing it back into a 32-year-old resident who was manning the entrance – injuring his eye and leg.

Resident Sarah Acreman, 42, who has lived in Locking Parklands for nine years with husband Glyn and their three sons, organises the gate rota.

She said violent incident has increased their determination to guard the former RAF Locking site.

”A group of gypsies came in on Saturday when the gates were unmanned but because it is Government land we managed to get rid of them quite quickly,” she said.

”On Monday they accelerated into the gate and one man who was on guard had to go to hospital because of the injuries he suffered.

”We are not violent people but that’s what we are up against. They will stop at nothing to get inside because we have acres of beautiful grass and parklands.

”It’s like a little paradise but the travellers spoil all of that. We have nothing against them but they have left effluent and rubbish on land that kids use to walk to school.

”If they were polite and didn’t do any damage then we would be happy for them to stay but the thieving and littering is horrible.

”Yesterday afternoon another caravan tried to get in so we are definitely not over-reacting with our defences. We are now redoubling our efforts on the gate.”

The Locking Parklands estate was formed when the Ministry of Defence decided to sell the RAF Locking living quarters and some land after the base closed in 1999.

A development company converted the former military buildings into 328 homes and sold them to private owners.

The properties have shot up in value to between £150,000 and £320,000 and the tranquil estate has become a sought after place to live.

However, the peace and quiet was threatened last year when several groups of travellers tried to set up illegal camps on the land.

The police and local council were sympathetic to the complaints of residents but only have limited powers to stop illegal camps from being created.

So residents banded together and bought ten tons of rubble and hardcore to block emergency exits around the perimeter of the former camp.

The decommissioned base still has walls and barbed wire fences, so a rota was drawn up to ensure that the main gate, which needs to remain open, was guarded around the clock.

But on Saturday a group of travellers breached the gate and drove onto the site in broad daylight before setting up an illegal camp.

On Monday evening an altercation between residents and travellers left one man injured and police were called out.

The travellers eventually left on Tuesday leaving piles of waste and excrement and residents have pledged to guard the gate for the ”foreseeable future”.

Resident Simon Evans, 35, added: ”Because we have now got one way in and one way out of this place we have the ability to protect it from illegal travellers.

”Our children are just scared of them and that’s our main motivation for doing what we are doing.

”We are not prejudiced against the travellers we just don’t want them here because they have no right to be on private land.

”They spoil the area and the group that has just left poured their sewage into a nature reserve pond before disappearing.”

Residents are concerned a group of 16 caravans on an illegal camp in nearby Weston-super-Mare will now attempt to enter the RAF camp.

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