Latest travellers’ camp sparks public concerns and call for action

Traveller encampment at Forfar.
Traveller encampment at Forfar.

A former playpark has become the site of an unauthorised camp for travellers in Forfar.

Caravans and vehicles lined-up in the former popular playpark near Threewells Drive last week.

The camp appeared after a previous encampment at Forfar Loch Country Park dispersed.

Some 16 caravans and additional vehicles are now sited near Threewells and Westfield - which is also used as a through-route for pupils attending Langlands Primary School.

Local residents have claimed that the school route has been left “impassable” and “dangerous” due to fears over dogs and human waste on the site.

The travellers are believed to have used a small pathway in Westfield Drive to gain access to the area after being given notice to quit the lochside site.

Residents have also pointed out there is no water or amenities, toilets or bins at the park.

Locals have hit out at the choice of the site, with Rosco Cunningham posting on Facebook: “The land is council-owned, And they can move them on. It’s a disgrace. They do not have the right to be in these places. They’re doing themselves no favours with the local authorities nor are our authorities dealing with the matter quickly enough.”

The comment added that the site has “rubbish everywhere”, which included “rotting fish guts”.

Another poster flagged up the process for removing travellers, with Alan Leslie commenting: “Has to go through the courts for an eviction. Takes around two weeks, then they have 48 hours to leave the site.”

John May added: “How hard can it be for the council to carry out an assessment of all possible camping areas in and around the town and take action to block access - 16 caravans and occupants = a lot of waste, how is that being dealt with.”

A spokesman for Angus Council said: “Our officers continue to monitor the unauthorised encampment while following policies and procedures as required.”

However, it is believed that the council is in the process of raising legal action at the Sheriff Court with a view to removing the unauthorised encampment from Threewells Drive at the earliest opportunity.

Meanwhile, a concerned reader has sent in photographs of some of the mess left at the lochside where there have been reports of human excrement and rubbish left near public pathways.

The site at Lochside was vacated on April 24, and the mess that was left behind was cleared the following day by council staff.

Due to the right to roam, contained within the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, police are not able to take action against someone camping on council or private land.

Angus Council revised and updated their travellers’ policy last November, with the policy offering an updated approach to the consideration of legal action to remove an unauthorised encampment, predicated around the behaviour arising from an encampment and the impact on the surrounding community.

Part of the policy includes a code of conduct covering Angus Council-owned land, which states: “Unauthorised gypsies/travellers’ encampments residing on Angus Council land will be required to adhere to a code of behaviour in order to remain on site.

In the past Angus Council and private landowners have taken evasive action in an attempt to stop travellers in their tracks.

In March, we reported the local authority had erected a trip rail barrier on the south side of North Loch road in an attempt to block access at the lochside.

Barriers and boulders have also been placed at other sites frequented by travellers - including the Strang’s Mortification land on the Montrose Road and a ditch was dug to stop access to council land at Orchardbank.

Barriers have also been installed at the East Links at Montrose, which has traditionally been used as a passing through area for travellers.

Last May more than 50 travellers arrived on the East Links and erected a massive blue-and-white tent for a Christian festival. The council sought legal action to move the travellers from the site.