Published: 14:00, 11 August 2017
Travellers pitched up just metres away from graves in a cemetery have been given until this evening to move on.
A deadline of 5pm has been agreed between the group and police but officers will move them on if it is not met.
The move has caused anger among residents who have called it disrespectful to mourners with relatives buried at Hawkinge Cemetery.
The council which owns the cemetery near Folkestone said earlier today it was taking legal action.
There were nine caravans seen parked this morning and it is understood they are the same group of travellers who have been pitching up in the district throughout the summer.
A spokesman for Shepway District Council, which owns the cemetery, said: “We’re aware of these travellers and we are taking the legal steps needed to remove them.
“This is the same small travelling community that has been on other locations in the district including, most recently, the Silver Springs site and Three Hills Sports Park.”
Kent County Council (KCC) manages designated traveller campsites around the county while some district and borough authorities also run some in their areas.
But there are currently none of these sites in Shepway.
The nearest site is at Aylesham, near Dover, which is run by KCC but does not have spaces available.
Apart from Aylesham, the only other site close to Shepway is at Chilmington Green on the outskirts of Ashford. That site is maintained by the borough council.
In Canterbury today, travellers were ordered to move on after setting up near a children's play area.
Travelling families have been causing anti-social behaviour issues for the council all summer in Shepway.
One group reportedly left building waste, dirty nappies, sanitary towels and other items in rubbish left at St Martin’s Primary School’s field in Cheriton.
It forced the school to cancel its sports day at the end of term.
Residents on social media were criticising the lack of respect shown after the latest incident when travellers were found at the Hawkinge Cemetery in Aerodrome Road.
One said: “As I say every time I see some one moaning about them pitching up anywhere, they have family's like us and need to stock up on food and fresh water and gas before they move on.
“Travelling folk have massive respect for passed over loved ones I couldn't see them damaging graves.
“If local councils made spaces where they could park for at most a week at a time to stock up we wouldn't have this problem where they pitch up in fields, parks and cemeteries.”
But others have been less sympathetic, with one saying: “They have shown no respect in the area. A group prevented the children from having their annual sports day at St Martin’s. This really takes the biscuit. Disgusting.”
Police have been asked to comment.
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