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Rough sleepers set up camp next to motorway in Willesborough

Residents say a rough sleepers’ campsite alongside the motorway resembles a miniature version of the Calais Jungle.

Tents have been seen in areas of woodland next to the motorway at Cradlebridge Drive in Willesborough, with reports of other ramshackle sites around the borough.

Resident Ben Sharp was among those who spotted the camp, and fears for the safety of those living there and for motorists on the M20 as smoke from the campfires drifts across the carriageway.

The homeless camp on the M20 in April
The homeless camp on the M20 in April

He said: “It is quite troubling, when I first saw it I said it looked a bit like a mini jungle, and no one believed me.

“There seem to be about five people living there, and I think there could also be children. It’s worrying for the health and hygiene side, as one area of the woods is strewn with toilet paper, and there is a river which runs through where I think they use for washing.

“I would like to see the council evict them and rehome them if that’s possible, or be given a parcel of land rather than just turfing them out onto the streets.”

The news of rough sleepers follows the tragic death of 49-year-old Sean Brady, whose body was found in a car park under the Stour Centre earlier this month.

But council bosses say they are aware of the group, and say outreach workers are on the streets working to help the homeless around the borough.

A council spokesman said: “Homelessness prevention work is critical not only for the resilience of our own housing stock but of course to the people concerned

“In these specific cases, the Porchlight outreach worker is liaising with the people at the sites in question. The police are also aware as there has been some reports of antisocial behaviour.

“Historically, Ashford has not had a large number of people sleeping rough and the council’s proactive range of measures is key to that.

“Talking to them can be the first step in them making positive changes to their lives and moving away from street homelessness for good.”

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