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Travellers leave Betteshanger Park near Deal and stop off at Discovery Park in Sandwich

ByEleanor Perkins

Travellers who forced the closure of one of Kent's most popular activity centres have moved on - but not without a visit to a nearby science park.

Mobile homes and caravans which have resided at Betteshanger Park near Deal since Sunday left the site yesterday afternoon.

Betteshanger Park in Deal closed on Sunday due to an incursion of travellers
Betteshanger Park in Deal closed on Sunday due to an incursion of travellers

It is thought that the same group then made their way to a car park at Discovery Park in Sandwich but left in the early hours.

Betteshanger Park served a notice to the travellers on Monday, which gave them 24hrs to vacate.

Park managers have since announced they will reopen on Friday.

A Betteshanger Park spokesman said: "After serving a notice to the travellers on Monday, we can confirm that they left site yesterday.

"The Park will re-open to the public once our staff have assessed the site’s condition. We anticipate this will be completed by Friday."

Travellers pitched up at Discovery Park in Sandwich during the night but did not stay Picture: Tony Flashman
Travellers pitched up at Discovery Park in Sandwich during the night but did not stay Picture: Tony Flashman

In a seperate post to the public published via their Facebook page, they added: "The team would like to thank you for all your goodwill wishes and support over the past couple of days."

A spokesman for Discovery Park said: "There was a group of travellers in a perimeter car park on site here at Discovery Park yesterday.

"The vehicles have moved on now."

The latest incident is the fourth incursion to affect the area since August.

It comes as The Home Office launch a consultation on giving police new powers to arrest and seize the property and vehicles of trespassers who set up unauthorised caravan sites.

Caravans also pitched up at Deal Castle in August this year
Caravans also pitched up at Deal Castle in August this year

Charlie Elphicke, MP for Dover and Deal, said: “It’s clear we need to have another look at the laws covering this.

"Authorities like ours are forced to play a game of cat and mouse, wasting money on court orders as groups of caravans simply move from one site to another. It’s unacceptable."

Matthew Scott, the elected Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent, has welcomed the plans to toughen legislation on unlawful encampments.

He believes the proposed changes, announced on Tuesday, would make it easier for swift and robust action to be taken.

He said: "I travel all over Kent speaking to residents and I know all too well the deep frustrations our local communities have with existing legislation.

"Currently trespassing is defined as a civil matter, meaning the law is too weak and slow to proffer true protection against illegal incursions.

"Only this week, a popular public park near Deal has had to close due to an incursion. This has a big impact on the local community.

"I feel it is wrong that, when this sort of things happens, it is the landowners who are responsible for enforcing the existing civil legislation and it is wrong that local taxpayers are often left footing the bill for expensive clean ups once the trespassers are moved on.

"I have lobbied Government to criminalise illegal incursions and so am delighted with the announcement to potentially change the law.

"Giving local police officers the power to arrest trespassers and seize their property and vehicles would, in my view, better protect our communities."

Read more: All the latest news from Sandwich

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