Leighton’s traveller trouble raised with police

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Market operators are being verbally abused and spat at by travellers wanting to drive down High Street, the LBO understands.

For the last three months Operation Dodford officers have been told to keep an eye on the market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and have noted several incidents in recent weeks.

During one clash travellers got into a dispute with the market manager over access to High Street, which was only diffused after officers gave “suitable words of advice to both parties”.

During another incident eyewitnesses spotted two groups of drunken travellers brawling with each other in the market. There was reportedly some delay in police attending the scene.

Ongoing concerns about anti-social behaviour at the market has led to the issue being raised by the town council with the new local Sergeant.

The council also highlighted its concerns at its latest police liaison committee meeting.

Inspector Jim Hitch said: “We are aware there have been previous incidents of anti-social behaviour in the town centre and have worked with the town council, Central Bedfordshire Council and Westminster Drugs Project to address these issues.”

Town mayor Ray Berry told the LBO: “We have had a problem with people acknowledging that the market road is closed and some have decided that they have God given right to be there.

“We have been told that it is not just the market manager but also the guy we are hiring on the gate who have been threatened physically.

“We are led to believe that they have been spat at as well. When they [travellers] can’t get their way they go through the bus lane, round the high street and back up.”

In the last week tensions with travellers in LBO land have intensified over two encampments.

Central Beds Council says it is aware of a group of travellers who have pitched up outside lifestyles@Tiddenfoot on Mentmore Road. A balliff is due to serve a notice on behalf of the council.

One resident told the LBO: “ We take our dog there [Tiddenfoot] and since last Wednesday that has not been an option as it is impossible to park there.

“When we walked there it was clear there were people ripping down fencing and using it for firewood.

“It’s frustrating they can take over a site and nothing can be done

Stanbridge Parish Council has also just finished clearing a park close to the Five Bells pub, which travellers pitched up on. They left within 24 hours of council balliffs handed over a notice to leave.

Last month there was also an illegal travellers encampment on Pages Park.