A convoy of seven large Traveller caravans who set up camp in Sydenham car park in Lewisham this week have been told by the council they will face legal action if they do not leave this weekend.
Since their arrival last Sunday, the travellers have occupied the overflow area of Girton Road car park next to The Dolphin pub.
It has been alleged that the Traveller convoy may be the same group who were similarly evicted from a nearby site in Crystal Palace at the beginning of October.
In recent months, there have been increasing numbers of Travellers in this part of Lewisham. In September 30 traveller vans occupied the disused Catford Greyhound Stadium Site – the land which developers Barratts Homes are waiting to redevelop.
At the end of September, travellers also set up camp in the Churchfields Recreation Ground in Elmers End where Police carried out extra patrols in response.
Under the Housing Act 2004, all council’s must assess the need for Traveller and Gypsy accommodation in its area when the borough’s housing requirements are being assessed.
The Council ended a five-year assessment of a potential location for Travellers in Church Grove in 2012, deciding in the end it would not go ahead. There is still no dedicated site.
The Council, who have been monitoring the situation closely, notified the travellers on 23 October that they were trespassing and must leave the site immediately. If they refuse, they will face legal action to have them evicted.
A spokesperson from Lewisham Council said they visited the site on Friday and “the travellers told us they intended to leave over the weekend. We have been clear with them that they are trespassing and, if they don’t leave the site, then we will start court proceedings for their eviction.”
Mayor Sir Steve Bullock and his cabinet discussed the issue in further detail at a Lewisham council meeting last night. Kath Nicholson, the head of Law at Lewisham council said: ”The council hope that they will be vacating peacefully”.
By Maya Oppenheim