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Planned traveller eviction prompts Stoke Newington Common row

18 Oct , 2016  

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Newly-arrived Irish travellers face eviction from Stoke Newington Common, prompting a challenge from a local advocacy group.

Hackney Council confirmed on 5 October that it had formally asked the travellers to leave after they parked five caravans on the open area next to Northwold Road late September. The arrival sparked anger from some local residents.

A London travellers rights group, however, said that “eviction is not the solution”.

Debby Kennett, joint head of the London Gypsy and Travellers Unit, said that Hackney Council was failing to provide enough legal sites for traveller settling and is instead “pushing [traveller] families around.”

“I can understand the concern of local residents,” Kennett said, “but there is only space for 27 traveller families across Hackney.”

“There is a whole young generation of travellers who want to live the traditional traveller lifestyle, but are unable to find authorised, legal sites.”

Caravans started moving onto the common at the end of September.

Caravans started moving onto the common at the end of September. (Credit: Ryan Watts)

An official council assessment conducted by Hackney Council last year concluded that 56 pitches should be built by 2020, and 78 by 2030. The Council has so far failed to follow this plan, according to Kennett.

“Eviction causes severe disruption – it means children cannot go to school, for example,” she said.

A Hackney Council spokesperson told the Hackney Post: “[The travellers] were formally asked to leave the Common but refused. There is a formal process involved, but we have been working through it as quickly as possible.

“If a decision is made to commence legal proceedings, a notice will be served and we will look to obtain a court order to remove the Travellers from the Common.”

Local residents expressed mixed views on the new arrivals.

One resident, who preferred to remain anonymous, described the travellers as an imposition: “We face them with dread, especially as it takes 21 days for them to be removed. They fill up the Common and their children are so badly behaved.”

Karen West, of Jenner Road, however, was happy with the new arrivals: “Live and let live, that’s my philosophy. Everyone seems somewhere to live – it hasn’t caused any problems and they’ll just come back anyway.”

Luke Mintz contributed reporting.

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