Police act to remove travellers from commons

    Lower Common Tunbridge Wells

    Travellers camped on the Lower Common in Tunbridge Wells were evicted by Kent Police yesterday, and had left the site by mid-afternoon.

    It comes after they were handed a Section 61 giving them two hours to move off or face forcible eviction.

    Six officers visited the camp to serve the notice around 1pm after previous attempts by the borough council to remove the travellers had failed.

    It is believed they were the same group of travellers who had previously pitched their caravans on the playing fields of Tonbridge School, before moving onto the Ridgewaye grounds in Southborough last week.

    They moved onto the lower common on Friday evening and were served with a Section 77 under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 by the borough council two days later – giving them 24 hours in which to voluntarily leave.

    However, after this period lapsed the council approached the police to serve an eviction notice under the under section 61 of the same act.

    This was done on the basis that more than six vehicles were on the land and damage had been caused to the common.

    It also gave the police the option to seize and remove vehicles if there was a failure to comply. The deadline was set for 3pm.

    Use of this procedure was described as ‘very rare’ by a police spokesman, however, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has considerable experience in dealing with traveller encampments, particularly in the rural areas of the authority.