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Leybourne residents shocked by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council's response to traveller blockade

By Natalie Tipping

Residents who set up a blockade to prevent travellers parking on land in their village have been left shocked by the local authority's response. 

Villagers in Leybourne parked cars and a truck around the edge of land off Castle Way on Monday afternoon

The land has been repeatedly used by travellers in the past, and locals hoped the move would prevent further trespassing. 

The blockade was set up to stop caravans getting onto the land

The blockade was set up to stop caravans getting onto the land

But now they have been left shocked as the land owner, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council (TMBC), has allegedly said if the residents were to install concrete blocks on the land it could be deemed to be fly tipping. 

TMBC is also said to have warned villagers that cars parked illegally on double yellow lines or off the road should be removed immediately, pending a possible imminent visit by enforcement officers.

One resident told the Kent Messenger: "At a time when seeing a bit of community spirit is refreshing, it's a huge blow to have a lack of support from our local council."

The blockade was set up to stop caravans getting onto the land

The blockade was set up to stop caravans getting onto the land

The move to create the blockade was due to travellers parking up at the K Sports ground in Station Road, Aylesford over the weekend.

Residents feared these caravans could return to Leybourne once they were moved on.

Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council’s director of central services, Adrian Stanfield, denied any warning had been issued.

"We have been in ongoing discussions with Leybourne Parish Council in relation to unlawful encampments in the Parish area," he said.

"Whilst the borough council has consistently acted as quickly as the law allows in order to remove unauthorised occupiers from land owned by the council within Leybourne, and has agreed with the Parish a number of existing preventative measures to deter future encampments on open space within our ownership e.g. fencing and boulders, we remain committed to exploring further steps that both the Parish and ourselves can take in order to provide an effective long-term solution.

"A meeting has recently taken place between the borough council and the Parish Council to agree the way forward.

"Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council’s street scene team, who undertake fly tipping enforcement, have not given a warning to residents that bollards will be treated as fly tipping.”

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