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Travellers at East Cliff in Ramsgate day before National Kitesurfing Championships heads to Kent

Fears have been raised that an illegal traveller camp may affect a major sporting event this weekend, which is expected to attract thousands of spectators to the Kent coast.

Dozens of caravans set up at the East Cliff car park in Ramsgate overnight leading to concerns the upcoming National Kitesurfing Championships this weekend may be affected.

The competition starts tomorrow and the town's mayor says she is worried about "considerable disruption" caused by the travellers.

Travellers parked at the East Cliff car park in Marina Esplanade in Ramsgate (15652274)
Travellers parked at the East Cliff car park in Marina Esplanade in Ramsgate (15652274)

Cllr Raushan Ara has now written to Thanet District Council officers urging them to take action "as swiftly as possible" adding that dealing with the situation is "imperative" for the town.

She said: "Tourism is one of our main forms of income and not having places to park impacts upon this.

"As you may be aware the kite surfing and other events is taking place this weekend and parking spaces will be a must.

"There is also the nuisance caused to residents by this group and improper disposal of rubbish."

Ramsgate mayor, Cllr Raushan Ara
Ramsgate mayor, Cllr Raushan Ara

Cllr Ara also called for official recommendations about preventing incidents in future.

She added: "The problem with the visiting travellers has been experienced for several years now. Complaints about littering, human waste, and the lack of accessibility to our open spaces come every year, and the council seem to do very little about it, other than just clear up the mess.

"Clearly, what is needed is a designated traveller site. One with space for their caravans, toilet and washing facilities, and waste disposal arrangements. Other councils provide somewhere, we need to do the same.

"People who wish to visit the town may well be put off by the thought that these travellers are here.

"TDC really does need to respond to this as soon as possible. We could lose tourism, trade and even potential residents if this is not dealt with."

The council has formed a Traveller Scrutiny Working Group to investigate long-term proposals and a solution to prevent travellers moving around the district.

The incident has been ongoing for more than a year with residents calling the situation a "merry-go-round" when the group arrived at the same site earlier this year.

The council has limited powers to evict travellers from public sites and must follow a strict legal process to issue a warning and carry out welfare checks for seeking a court order forcing them to leave a site.

A spokesman for TDC said: "We are aware of the traveler group at Marina Esplanade Car Park. Council officers have visited the site and conducted the necessary welfare checks.

"As there were no welfare concerns a Section 77 Order was issued. As the site remains occupied, officers have now requested a court date."

But the council says it will be unable to force the removal of the group ahead of the weekend due to the legal steps required to enforce breaking up illegal encampments.

The spokesman added: "The council must: show that the group is on the land without consent, make enquiries regarding the general health, welfare and children's education, ensure that the Human Rights Acts 1998 and the Equalities Act 2010 have been fully complied with, follow a set procedure in terms of proving ownership of land and details of the illegal encampment that will enable them to successfully obtain the necessary authority from the courts to order the group to leave the site. This process normally takes at least two to three weeks."

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