Published: 17:30, 17 August 2018
Mounds of rubbish including clothes, nappies and even human waste were left behind following the illegal occupation of Maidstone’s Mote Park by a group of travellers.
More than a dozen caravans arrived onto the site last Monday, refusing to move on until the borough council was able to get a court order this week.
Now the park is empty once again – but council workers, some in contamination suits, spent Wednesday cleaning up the mess left behind.
The encampment comes as figures reveal Maidstone has the second-highest number of registered traveller caravans in the country.
The Gypsy Council has hit out at the council, saying more needs to be done to provide legal sites for the gypsy and traveller communities to use.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Maidstone has the second largest traveller community in the country, with just shy of 600 caravans currently registered in the borough.
Of those, 156 caravans are currently on unauthorised sites and being “tolerated” by the council.
These caravans are set up on land owned by travellers but have not been given planning permission and are therefore deemed unauthorised sites.
The figures are in stark contrast to Tunbridge Wells, where just 69 caravans are registered.
Joseph Jones from the Gypsy Council said: “The council says it’s got a five year supply of sites, but the figures don’t add up. If they have the supply, why are there 150 caravans without planning permission?
“It causes problems among the settled community because they look at travellers staying somewhere without planning permission and it creates a sense of unfairness. Every time there’s a traveller encampment everyone says ‘look what these gypsies are up to’, but they’re often on this land because there are no suitable sites.”