Angry farmer blocks in group of travellers who refuse to leave Trowbridge land

This Is Wiltshire: Farm machinery surrounding travellers’ caravans on the land near the Meridian Business Park on Wednesday. Picture by Trevor Porter Farm machinery surrounding travellers’ caravans on the land near the Meridian Business Park on Wednesday. Picture by Trevor Porter

Furious farmer Chris Awdry and his workers barricaded in a group of travellers with a dozen tractors after they refused to leave land he rents in Trowbridge.

The travellers, who arrived in six vehicles with caravans attached, moved onto the 1.57-acre land off the A363 Westbury Road, opposite the Meridian Business Park, at 12.15pm on Wednesday.

They were asked by the farmer who rents the land to move off, but after they refused he contacted the police and enlisted his staff to drive the tractors around the edge of the land and block the travellers in.

After long discussions, the travellers eventually left at about 3pm. Police told the travellers to leave under section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

Officers are able to activate the powers where they are satisfied two or more people are trespassing on the land and the landowner has taken reasonable steps to make them leave.

Mr Awdry said: “They went in and they were ruining the land and we wanted them out. The owner of the land didn’t want them there and we did what we could to protect the land.

“I had asked them nicely to leave but they said they wouldn’t and that I would have to get a court order to move them on. I then contacted the police and they said it was a civil matter.

“We then decided to barricade them in until they went, with the police in attendance the whole time to keep the peace. I was glad we managed to sort it quickly and peacefully.

“Luckily, it happened on a day when we were not so busy harvesting, so we were able to act straight away, although even if it had been a busy day we would have still dealt with it.”

Motorists driving by the scene were beeping their horns in support of the farmers according to one of the employees.

But one traveller told the Wiltshire Times that they had only stopped off for food and to allow the children to rest.

Inspector Alan Lumley, who attended the scene, said: “They were peacefully dispersed without the necessity of us using police powers.

“The local land controller has been spoken to and no offences have been disclosed.

“We always try and resolve such matters peacefully, although we do have powers to remove them if needed to.”

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