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Gypsy Trailers and Trucks Moved From Effingham Church Gardens Amid Water Standoff

Published on: 14 Aug, 2020
Updated on: 14 Aug, 2020

A Gypsy incursion on Effingham’s St Lawrence Hall church gardens during the heatwave has been moved on after a water dispute.

Two families with young children, trailers and vans moved onto the gardens on August 6, the day before the heatwave hit. Revd Mandy MacVean was unavailable so churchwarden John Amos turned on the water supply.

Romany Gypsies encamped on church land.

Gypsies Sean and Ben said they would leave on Monday, August 10 and added that no further travellers would arrive.

But on Saturday Revd MacVean found a total of six trailers and sundry other vehicles in the gardens. The leader said they would depart as stated on Monday afternoon and they were warned the water would be turned off then.

The travellers did not leave and, with temperatures still in the mid-30s, the water was turned off. Former Effingham parish councillor James Nicholls, who lives nearby, said the water should have been left on.

“Morris”, who described himself as the group leader, said: “We’ve never been treated this badly by anyone else. We never expected the church to react this way. What would they say if one of our kids took ill because of the heat? We’re going tomorrow [Wednesday] although we haven’t anywhere to stay.”

Six trailers in St Lawrence Church hall gardens.

Revd MacVean issued a clarifying statement from the Parochial Church Council (PCC) of St Lawrence on the Effingham Residents Association website:

“Two caravans parked in the grounds of St Lawrence Church Hall. They were trespassers. After receiving assurances that there were going to be only two of them and they would depart on August 10 they were supplied with a hose and water.

“Sadly, these assurances proved false and four other caravans and various work lorries joined them. The supply of water was then abused and they did not leave as promised. At this point, the water supply was turned off but access to a tap in the neighbouring churchyard was not restricted.

“The PCC, [being responsible to the church authorities] had a fiduciary duty to seek the removal of the caravans due to the increasing damage to the church’s property. This included fly-tipping and accumulation of human waste that was likely to become a health hazard.

“The PCC also had a responsibility to neighbours who were being disturbed by noise and other anti-social behaviour. It exercised its common-law rights to serve an eviction notice on August 11.

“On August 12, the caravans and work lorries left the site voluntarily in a peaceful manner under the supervision of a bailiff and the attending neighbourhood police. The water supply was switched on to allow the caravans to take on water before departure.”

Revd MacVean added: “We are a welcoming community and wish everyone well who visits our village. Although uninvited, we were willing to show our visitors kindness and help them as they passed through.

“Sadly, our hospitality was abused and the PCC had no option, in the interests of hall-users and the wider community, to take steps for the removal of our visitors. I am grateful for the assistance from the neighbourhood police and am very sorry for the disruption to the village.”

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test 5 Responses to Gypsy Trailers and Trucks Moved From Effingham Church Gardens Amid Water Standoff

  1. John Dwyer Reply

    August 14, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    “I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was a stranger and you took me in…” What odd behaviour by supposed Christian ministers.

  2. Dave Middleton Reply

    August 15, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Apparently, the church, in the spirit of Christian fellowship, offered hospitality to uninvited guests, who unlawfully occupied their land, then repaid that hospitality by overstaying their welcome, inviting others onto the land, leaving rubbish and human toilet waste, damaging the land and abusing the water supply granted them.

    Perhaps if they had been more responsible and more considerate they might have been able to negotiate a longer stay.

  3. Martin Elliott Reply

    August 15, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    How confusing. I missed the definition of the Parochial Church Council (PCC) of St Lawrence.

    I thought I was reading responsibilities of the Police and Crime Commissioner, mistakenly meaning the Surrey Police Service.

    Though along with a few other issues the Police and Crime Commissioner has lobbied for extension of police powers against traveller incursions/trespass by the provision of transit Sites in Surrey (and Guildford BC).

    Though a sad reflection on authorities, despite what the ‘good’ travellers say, many spoil the behaviour for all.

  4. John Dwyer Reply

    August 16, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    ..and of course, not being steeped in the bible, I missed the most relevant quote: “I was thirsty and you gave me drink.”

    • Cllr Liz Hogger, Lib Dem borough councillor for Effingham Reply

      August 17, 2020 at 11:37 am

      Which is of course precisely what the church did at the start, supplying water, if you read the article carefully.

      However the impact on the community became intolerable – noise from generators, toilet waste raising health worries, and the fact the car park could not be used for the usual community activities in the church hall.

      It must have been a difficult decision for Rev MacVean and the PCC, but they did the right thing to protect our community. I’m pleased they were supported by both the borough council and the police.

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