Travellers on Ashton Park move on within 24-hours

Posted on - 27th May, 2023 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Ashton-on-Ribble, Parks, Preston Council, Preston News, Uncategorized
Ashton Park
Ashton Park Pic: Tony Worrall

Travellers have moved on from a Preston park within 24 hours of arriving.

The group spent Thursday night and part of Friday at Ashton Park in Pedders Lane.

Although Preston City Council had yet to check the now vacated area as of Friday afternoon, the authority told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) it was hopeful that a combination of a short stay, good weather and firm ground would mean that little damage had been done.

Read more: Plans to build £9.7m Ashton Park sports hub

Last July, locals described a scene of devastation following occupation of the park by travellers, with detritus left behind including dirty nappies and food waste.

Meanwhile, a second group has been served an official notice to leave another of the city’s green spaces after around half a dozen caravans rolled onto Ribbleton Park, off New Hall Lane, earlier this week.

Their arrival coincided with that of other travellers who gained access to Penwortham Holme in Middleforth, forcing the cancellation of dozens of junior football league fixtures on the final weekend of the season.

It is likely that the number of travellers passing through the area is linked to the Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria next month. The annual gathering of Gypsies and travellers begins on 2nd June.

Ashton ward councillor Robert Boswell said that he had not been contacted by any residents with concerns over the travellers who had stopped off at Ashton Park this year, adding: “They usually move on before the legal process is exhausted.”

Read more: Tennis court revamp for Ashton Park

Although the group that has pitched up at Ribbleton Park – formerly known as Waverley Park – has stayed for longer and has now been given 24 hours to leave, Ribbleton ward councillor Javed Iqbal told the LDRS that it was important not to assume that all travellers would leave a mess in their wake.

“Myself and my fellow ward councillors are active and reported [these] travellers the day they arrived.

“I believe they were waiting for people to join them from Birmingham and then they were going to leave.

“But they seem to be family and there has been no mess or disrespect. Travellers can be very decent people,” Cllr Iqbal added.

Read more: Preston parks awarded Green Flag status

A spokesperson for Friends, Families and Travellers, a charity that works to end racism and discrimination against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people, highlighted the “chronic shortage of safe stopping places for travelling communities [that] means over 3,000 families often have nowhere to stop and can’t rest without fear of retribution”.

“This makes accessing basic needs like sanitation, education, and healthcare more difficult, and ultimately doesn’t benefit anyone.

“Local and national government have a duty to provide safe stopping places so that Gypsy and Traveller people can live in a way that honours their histories and traditions, without sacrificing peace of mind and quality of life.”

A report commissioned last year by South Ribble, Preston and Chorley councils recommended that the neighbouring authorities should “consider the options” available to provide sites for travellers “passing through Central Lancashire”.

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