Fringe Box



Travellers from Unauthorised Stoke Park Encampment Say They Will Leave by the Weekend

Published on: 24 May, 2023
Updated on: 26 May, 2023

By Martin Giles

Travellers who have encamped illegally on Stoke Park intend to move on by the weekend, realising that events are planned.

A spokesperson for Guildford Borough Council said: “We are aware of an Unauthorised Encampment at Stoke Park. On this occasion, access was gained via a tractor gate where a padlock was removed. The matter was reported to police who attended on the evening the encampment arrived.

“It’s our duty to balance the needs of the local community with the rights of the travelling community. We work in close partnership with the police, undertaking welfare checks and monitoring the encampment to make sure waste is being managed. We liaise with key community contacts and respond to enquiries.”

Today Terry McDonagh one of the Irish Traveller group told The Dragon that camping on open spaces around the country was part of their lifestyle, their culture. “It should be respected as much as the culture of other minority communities,” he said, adding that they would leave the site tidy, pointing out that there was no litter currently around the 20 or so caravans positioned at the western end of the park.

He and his small group of friends questioned said that they had no complaints about their treatment by locals or the police other than an allegation on FaceBook that their group was responsible for the theft of two bikes. They denied any involvement and were annoyed that their group’s reputation was being blackened in this way.

“We are having a whip round”, said McDonagh, “£20 each to give to the father who we are in touch with, so he can replace the bikes.”

But Dragon reader M Durant wrote in to say: “From May up until September there is an issue with caravans setting themselves up on Stoke Park. A boy was going on a motorcycle across the park while children were playing on the weekend. There are signs on the grass all across Stoke Park of tyre marks from their cars, it doesn’t look good.

“It’s not safe to have motorcycles and cars joyriding in a public space with children playing.

“The council would need just an extra bollard in the middle of the two other bollards and possibly blocking other gaps around the park so that caravans and cars can’t park on it, to deal with the problem once and for all.

“The current encampment of caravans has refused to leave Stoke Park within 24 hours. The council will have to apply for a court order. How much is it costing the council to deal with this issue every year? It’s not the same group of caravans, every year.

“Some say there are no transit areas for them in Surrey but this doesn’t add up with the fact that each group of caravans throughout the summer uses Stoke Park as a holiday park, not as a transit area, only when the weather is good. I have never seen them in winter in the park.

“Due to them being there last weekend the authorised Park Run was not able to take place over the weekend, it’s appalling.”

In response to Mr Durant’s complaint the council spokesperson continued: “We must follow a legal process to remove trespassers. If they don’t leave when asked, we have to apply for a court order. Most encampments are reasonable and move on within 24 hours of the Order being served. The speed of this process is dependent on the availability of court time

“The police are responsible for investigating and dealing with any crime or anti-social behaviour. This includes the driving and riding issues raised by your reader.

“We have invested in preventative measures to avoid Unauthorised Encampments in our parks and on our land. However we cannot always prevent them.”


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Responses to Travellers from Unauthorised Stoke Park Encampment Say They Will Leave by the Weekend

  1. Keith Francis Reply

    May 27, 2023 at 9:42 am

    Where to next for them?

    Doesn’t their arrival on Stoke Park have something to do with the upcoming Derby and Oaks horse races on Epsom Downs?

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