A VILLAGE plagued by travellers has seen the fourth invasion in four months.
Playing a game of ‘cat- and-mouse’, caravans have moved between the A27 layby at Casson’s restaurant, Tangmere recreation field and Tangmere airfield on separate occasions since May, with up to 40 caravans stationed on the airfield at one point.
“Nobody seems to want to grasp the nettle,” said Casson’s owner, Cass Casson.
“From my perspective and the rest of Tangmere, the parish council and the district council, it seems to get put into the difficult box.
“They’ve been on the airfield, the recreation field.
“I don’t know if they’re looking on Tangmere as a soft touch.”
He praised Chichester District Council and West Sussex County Council, but criticised the Highways Agency, which owns the layby outside his restaurant,
“Trying to contact anyone in the Highways Agency to report the arrival of the travellers was to put it mildly a nightmare,” he wrote in a letter to Graham Dalton, chief executive of the Highways Agency.
The travellers were still on the layby yesterday as the Observer went to press, having arrived on August 1. The six caravans then moved onto the recreation field on Friday, from where three were evicted as they were breaking a county court judgement from their previous incursion.
The other three also departed and they all returned to Cassons – meaning the process must now begin all over again.
The village has seen a marked increase in the number of incursions this year, with only two incursions in the last 32 years prior to 2013,
“It was a bit of cat-and- mouse,” Andrew Irwin, Tangmere Parish Council chairman, told the Observer yesterday of the recent incursions.
“The Highways Agency told them to leave the layby. They left, came to us and we moved them on.
“It’s reminiscent of when they moved off the recreation field and onto the airfield.
“There’s no long term solution and we know that.”
An emergency meeting was called for last night at 7.30pm (August 15) in the village centre to decide on permanent protection for the recreation field.
Previous attempts to deter travellers have included the council hiring bales of hay to prevent vehicles accessing the field.