Overnight security at car park

Laura Bagshaw OVERNIGHT security has been installed at one of Great Yarmouth's main car parks to prevent another costly traveller invasion hitting the bank holiday weekend.

Laura Bagshaw

OVERNIGHT security has been installed at one of Great Yarmouth's main car parks to prevent another costly traveller invasion hitting the bank holiday weekend.

The borough council took the action after an 80-strong group of Irish travellers was forced off Beach Coach Station on Saturday night - four days after a legal ultimatum for them to leave expired, fuelling local frustration.

The council is funding the manned security on the site used by lorries, coaches and tourists, for one week to ensure one of the summer's peak weeks runs without a hitch.

And with forecasters optimistic about the weekend's weather Graham Plant, cabinet member for tourism, said: “We want to make sure we have a really good bank holiday weekend so people can come into the town and enjoy it. The car park is already manned during the day by council staff.”

Mr Plant said during the travellers' stay parking disruption had been kept to a minimum. He said: “The council made a seafront car park available for 30 coaches on Saturday so they did not face disruption.

Most Read

He added: “We were working behind the scenes to get these people removed and by 6pm on Saturday that operation was underway.”

This week it was revealed that the travellers had paid money to the borough council which will cover part of the clear up cost after they had been asked to do so by the Travellers Association.

While officials could not put an exact cost on the operation involving police monitoring, legal orders, clear-up and the loss of parking revenue it is expected to run into the thousands.

Dozens of travellers arrived in the town on Saturday, August 9, and were told by police they had to move on by last Wednesday morning.

Instead more families arrived swelling the number of caravans to at least 60. On Wednesday police extended their deadline until Saturday morning because of concerns they may have some difficulties with another group of travellers in Walsingham, north Norfolk.

Police Superintendent Jim Smerdon said: “Letting them go would probably have caused us bigger problems. It had always been our intention to move in on Saturday if the travellers refused to leave.”

Supt Smerdon said travellers refused to move on Saturday morning and told police they were going to stay for the weekend.

At around 7.30pm a 40-strong team of officers in riot gear gathered at Beach Coach Station forcing around 86 caravans out of the town.

Supt Smerdon said travellers left the site without any problems with officers enforcing their movements.

“Once it became clear we were going to move them off forcibly and that would involve seizing their caravans and making arrests they left the borough,” he added.

Some travellers moved on briefly to different locations in Norfolk including the Little Chef site at Brundall and the Thickthorn roundabout near Norwich.

On Monday police moved another group of travellers on from a privately owned field in Caister, off Yarmouth Road. Just before 2pm on Monday police served a Section 61 notice ordering the travellers to leave by 4pm but the small group had moved on by 3.40pm.

Police said there were no rises in criminal activity in Yarmouth during the travellers stay.

Supt Smerdon added: “We have holiday camps here and if they want to come here and pay to put their caravans on a site that's fine but we will not tolerate it on private or council owned land.”

Yarmouth MP Tony Wright said he would be contacting the council and police, seeking answers as to why the travellers were allowed to stay on the council owned site.

He said: “It is totally unacceptable to have an encampment in the centre of town during the tourist season.”