Travellers Attempt To Occupy Wandsworth Commons

Formal notices to quit were issued swiftly

Swift action from the council’s parks police service yesterday prevented two attempts by travellers to set up camps on both Wandsworth and Tooting Commons. The council provides an approved travellers site in Trewint Street, Earlsfield

The town hall was alerted at around 3pm yesterday (November 3rd) that an attempt was being made to occupy parts of Wandsworth Common, near Bellevue Road.

Nine vehicles including cars, tipper trucks, transit vans and caravans had been driven on to the common by travellers who were attempting to set up a camp. Further information received by the council suggested this was just the vanguard of a far bigger encampment involving many more vehicles and caravans.

The travellers were immediately issued with formal notices to quit, warning them that if they did not leave immediately the council’s parks police service would commence legal proceeding,s which could involve the towing away and seizure of their vehicles.

Travellers on Wandsworth common

Camping on any common or open space in the borough of Wandsworth, without prior authorisation from the council, is a criminal offence under parks and open spaces byelaws.

The council also has powers to remove people and their belongings, including vehicles, if they do not comply with the byelaws.

This warning of legal action and potential prosecution persuaded the group to quit and they left Wandsworth Common at around 4.30pm. However, they then made their way to Tooting Common where they attempted to set up another camp by driving onto the football pitches close to Dr Johnson Avenue.

A further ultimatum from the parks police convinced the travellers that they should leave Tooting Common and they were gone by around 6pm. Their current whereabouts is not known but they appear to have left the borough completely.

Wandsworth’s environment spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said, “We warned them that if they did not leave they would face the prospect of a criminal prosecution under the park’s byelaws and could have their vehicles towed away. Faced with this no-nonsense ultimatum the travellers made the sensible decision to leave straight away.”

Residents who witness any incident involving travellers on council-owned land should call the town hall's emergency response team on (020) 8871 6900. This is a 24 hour service. Occupations of other land should be reported immediately to the police.

November 11, 2015