RESIDENTS have protested outside a prison in a bid to make justice bosses remove travellers, who they claim are intimidating them, from its land.
An estimated 44 caravans heading to Appleby Horse Fair have set up camp on Startforth Park, on the outskirts of Barnard Castle, next to Deerbolt Young Offender’s Institute.
Angry residents on Startforth Park estate, near the temporary site on land owned by the prison, say that the travellers have threatened them and blocked roads.
Fifteen residents from the Startforth Park Residents’ Association protested for two hours outside of Deerbolt today (Friday, May 30) to raise the issue with the prison authorities.
One resident, who did not want to be named, said: “We’re being intimidated, threatened and sworn at by them.
“They are going to the toilet in the bushes on the site and there are dogs and ponies there.
“The area they are on is used by our kids to play on and we’ll have to clean up the excrement from the site
“The first caravans arrived last Sunday. We’re not happy.
“We’re not against travellers at all providing they treat us with respect. They’re going to Appleby but they’ll be in Barnard Castle until next Wednesday (June 4) and they’ll stop on the way back.
“We want an injunction to get them off the land.”
The residents want the Ministry of Justice, which owns the land, to place a manned barrier on the site to prevent travellers accessing it.
Norman Mason, 66, was one of the group who met Deerbolt’s governor Gabrielle Lee.
He said: “She’s apologised and realises that she could’ve been more proactive.
“It will cost them to put up a barrier but it’s going to cost them to clean up the site. She realises that we’re not to be messed about and we’ll have future meetings with her.”
Governor Lee said: “I met with residents and agree that it’s a very difficult situation and we’re working together to resolve it and to deal with the consequences.”
Many of the travellers planned to stay at the temporary site at Shawbank but it had to be closed as heavy rain turned it into a mud bath.
Sergeant Simon Rogers, of Barnard Castle Police, said: “We’ve had reports of anti-social behaviour but no crimes regarding the travellers reported.
“We’ve increased patrols and these will continue over the next few days. We will liaison with residents and travellers to ensure things are peaceful.”