I can't sleep after 20 traveller caravans descended on our peaceful neighbourhood – our kids can't play in the park | The SunJune 29, 2022
LOCALS in a quiet town say they're unable to sleep after travellers surrounded the cricket pitch with more than 20 caravans.
Members of the Irish travelling community have pitched up at Jubilee Park in Waterlooville, Hampshire for their holidays.
And they've blamed public "racism" for any fears the town's residents may have about their arrival.
But people living nearby claim they feel threatened by the "disgraceful" group and are too scared to use the park.
It's alleged litter has been dumped across the area.
One elderly woman who lives within 50 metres of Jubilee Park says she "hardly slept" because of her worries.
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"This is the second time in the past few years they've come here," she said.
"My friend was cleaning out the bowls club this morning and they had left a right mess there. I think it's disgraceful.
"I just wonder how long they are going to be here for.
"I hardly slept last night because I was worried about things getting stolen."
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A young dad visiting the park with his two-year-old said: "It's messy and the kids don't have any parents looking after them.
"Our son couldn't play because of it."
But James McDonald, who is staying in the park with his family, said any claims of mess and disruption are just rumours.
The dad-of-four, 40, said: "We aren't making any mess here.
"We spent ten days in Ipswich before this and when we drove out we left it the same way we came in.
"People don't understand the culture – that's basically it. They seem to be educated enough, but they don't seem to listen.
"They just don't want to know about it. They just look at the bad side of all of it.
"Everybody gets painted with the same brush and it's not fair. It's racism – it has to be.
"You can see for yourself when we leave – it will be immaculate.
"We're happy enough here for three to four days. There are no plans for where else we go, we're just getting the kids out while they're on holiday."
But Julie Rothwell, who owns a burger van in the town, said: "It's a public park and we can't go down to enjoy it.
"Last time there were a few break-ins, especially garages. It's fine if you want to go round in a caravan, but find a campsite.
"We've got cricket and bowls and all sorts, but none of it can go ahead.
"It's taking away from the community. They're a hindrance on the community and they're quite intimidating as well."
People don't understand the culture. Everybody gets painted with the same brush. It's racism
She said she wouldn't allow her own child to visit the park while the encampment is there.
"When they arrived all the neighbours locked everything down. We leave lights on overnight, pretend we're are still in the house," she said.
Not all locals are concerned, however. Catherine Agius, 59, says she would have no problem with letting her grandchildren play in the park.
"I don't have a problem with them," she said.
"They've got to go somewhere.
"What harm are they doing? We're all human.
"People are only annoyed because they've surrounded the cricket pitch."
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A Hampshire Police spokesperson said this afternoon: "We are aware of an unauthorised encampment at Jubilee Park, Waterlooville, and our officers have attended the site to assess the situation.
"We are working closely with the landowners to seek a suitable resolution."
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