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Illegal traveller camps in Lillieburn, Leybourne spark council plan for new defences

Village defences against illegal caravan encampments could be bolstered further in a swift response to travellers pitching up in an area not protected by pricey security measures.

Several areas of Leybourne have been consistently targeted over the last few years, which led the parish council to spend some £36,000 last year on fencing, gates and drop down posts.

However, travellers gained access to one of the few areas not protected last month as caravans arrived at Lillieburn off Castle Way.

In light of the recent illegal traveller camp, which cost Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council (TMBC) £1,715 to clear up on top of significant staff and police time, Leybourne Parish Council has proposed installing new defences.

The site currently has stone boulders along the road perimeter, but these have been easily lifted and moved out of the way by those looking to access the land.

To combat this, parish chiefs suggest installing 'bow top' fencing - similar to that in other areas of the village - and two bollards at the access point for maintenance.

Travellers have set up camp at land off Lillieburn in Leybourne (9204972)
Travellers have set up camp at land off Lillieburn in Leybourne (9204972)

However, budget restrictions mean it is only able to contribute towards 25% of the estimated £13,000 cost, leaving £9,750 for the borough council to fund, which would need to be taken from its General Revenue Reserve.

The proposal, on which a recommendation will be made at a meeting of TMBC's Communities and Housing Advisory Board next week, is supported by Cllr Nicholas Stapleton.

He said: "Leybourne residents, especially those who are in the immediate vicinity, are feeling a strong lack of support from TMBC, and are having to face these incursions up to a couple of times per year.

Lillieburn in Leybourne where council chiefs are proposing to build new defences against traveller incursions. Picture: Google (10799100)
Lillieburn in Leybourne where council chiefs are proposing to build new defences against traveller incursions. Picture: Google (10799100)

"When the cost of the legal proceedings and the clean up procedure that has to take place once the travellers have left, have been taken into consideration, I feel it would be far more beneficial to spend the money on protecting the land with fencing and bollards.

"Whilst I understand that the cost is high, and there is a chance that the travellers will then just settle elsewhere in the local area; Leybourne has had more traveller incursions than most other villages and towns locally, therefore I support the proposal put forward by Leybourne Parish Council”.

Cllr Nick Stapleton supports the proposal
Cllr Nick Stapleton supports the proposal

Cllr Brian Luker also fed back that residents wanted to be formally consulted on the plans, wanted to know what alternatives have been considered and have demanded the proposal not be rustic in appearance.

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