Travellers' encampments and noisy van drivers are causing sleepless nights for elderly residents of Banbury flats

A number of travellers' encampments and noisy van drivers, parking overnight, have been causing sleepless nights for elderly residents of a block of flats in Banbury.

Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 3:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 4:50 pm
A picture of the Windsor Street car park, as seen from one of the nearby apartments whose residents have been bothered by anti-social disturbance

The problems have occurred at the Windsor Street car park - just outside the main shopping area - run by Cherwell District Council

One nearby resident told the Banbury Guardian: "There have been four incursions of travellers in this car park in the past 11 months. The noise and disruption is unbearable for the elderly residents of Spencer Court, many of whom suffer serious ill health.

"It is having a detrimental effect not only on their physical health but on their mental health too.

"Not only is there a health hazard due to the littering and using the car park as a toilet but there is also the lack of income and cost of cleaning which impacts on the local council tax-payers.

"There are now large Transit vans parking overnight which are causing a public disturbance in the early hours of the morning by tooting their horns, banging doors and loading and unloading unknown articles.

"Cherwell District Council have been contacted on several occasions but fail to take any action and Thames Valley police have been uncontactable. They fail to answer the phone and their website is not fit for purpose."

The resident said the vans are slept in overnight, most usually on a Sunday night.

"It's not always the same vans. They park in the far corner so that they can go around the back to go to the toilet.

"Travellers have been there on four separate occasions. They play music until the early hours. The previous lot held a 50th birthday party on the Saturday with camper vans turning up besides the travellers. There must have been around 50 drinking and shouting all evening."

A spokesman for Cherwell District Council said: “The vans in question have now left the car park and Cherwell District Council has reported the disturbance associated with them to the police.

"To prevent further incursions the council has commissioned bespoke height barriers which are waiting to be installed, with the intention of minimising inappropriate use of the car park.”

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said: "Initially responsibility for any unauthorised encampment rests with the landowner in the first instance because this would be a civil trespass – therefore in this case Cherwell District Council.

"However, the police will attend and make an assessment as to the impact the encampment is having on both the landowner, the settled community and will then assess whether criteria for the limited powers we have might be met.

"Decisions to use police powers are carefully considered and must be balanced and compliant with the Human Rights Act 1998. Any action taken by Thames Valley Police will only be when necessary for public safety, the prevention of crime or disorder, the protection of health or for the protection of the rights and freedom of others.

"We have a FAQ page on our website about this - https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/police-forces/thames-valley-police/areas/advice/unauthorised-encampments---faqs/

"If the public wish to report this to police then they can do so by making a report online or calling 101. 999 should only be used in an emergency if a life is in danger or a crime is in progress."