Travellers leave Dagenham camp following court action threat

Police speak to travellers in Wellington Drive, Dagenham, before their departure

Police speak to travellers in Wellington Drive, Dagenham, before their departure - Credit: Archant

A group of travellers left the Dagenham site where they had set up camp after being threatened with court action.

An ultimatum was issued by the council and police on Friday night, who told the assembled group that they had until midday on Saturday to leave Wellington Drive.

The empty flats where they were living, set to be regenerated by the council, have now been boarded up to prevent their return.

A spate of petty crime had plagued residents since the travellers’ arrival on November 5.

Rubbish was set alight outside Ley Primary School on the adjoining Ley Avenue on Friday morning. There were also reports of wild dogs attacking residents, property being stolen and threatening behaviour towards firefighters and police.

Police organised additional officer presence over the weekend in a bid to reassure residents during the removal process.

Hustine Omoyeni, whose two-year-old son attends Leys Children’s Centre Nursery, admits that he was intimidated by the travelers’ presence.

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“I was a bit scared by the thought of them being there,” he said.

“Sometimes we walk through where they were as a shortcut but I won’t be doing that now.”

MP Jon Cruddas, who described the travellers’ presence as “a real danger” to the community said he was pleased that the situation had been resolved amicably by the police and the council.

“Moving forward we need to ensure that stronger sanctions are in place to deal with potentially dangerous situations in a much more timely manner,” he said. “The recent incident was allowed to escalate over the course of a week, which led to tension in the local community.

“I will be discussing how we can best deal with similar situations in the future, and will also be looking at what preventative measures could be established in the borough.”

Cruddas had previously criticised the council for its failure to respond quickly to residents’ concerns.

In a response, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Saima Ashraf, said she was “surprised by his comments”, adding “our staff have been working actively to deal with the situation”.

“Clearly we have to work within the law but would, of course, welcome anything the MP could do in Parliament to strengthen the powers available to the Council.”