The Byfleet, West Byfleet, & Pyrford Residents’ Association committee have received the following report from The Octagon Group:
On Sunday evening 28th January 2018 a large party of travellers consisting of about 15 cars, caravans and lorries broke into the Broadoaks site using bolt cutters on the padlocks and chains securing the gates, immediately replacing them with their own. Their forced entry provoked an immediate and full security and Police response to the site which is monitored by 60 security cameras and patrolling guards. The travellers were extremely aggressive claiming squatters rights. The Police informed us that nothing could be done that night.
On Monday afternoon, following strong representations from us and the viewing of recordings from our security cameras showing criminal damage being carried out, the Police issued a Section 61 Notice requiring them to leave the site by 12 noon Tuesday 30 January. All the travellers had left by 1pm. Meanwhile the cameras recorded criminal damage being carried out that commenced within minutes of them entering the site until their forced eviction approximately 40 hours later.
A full site inspection is still in progress but we have found that all the Listed buildings have been vandalised and large amounts of fittings, copper tubing and electric cabling have been stolen from the Manor House and the substantially complete modern office building Sherwood. The 150 year old clock from the façade of the Manor House Coach House adjacent to Parvis Road was also stolen.
The current situation is that, following a security review with the Police, we are extending the physical barriers at all entrance points to the site and enhancing the 24 hour on-site security personnel.
We commend the Police for their swift response without which the damage would undoubtedly have been far more severe.
It is unfortunate that SCC fails to provide any sites for transient travellers, but there is no excuse for this kind of criminal behaviour and we trust the police and CPS prosecute this to the fullest. We do not wish to imply any criticism beyond this specific incident.
A statement from Jonathan Lord, MP, reads:
I’m personally a hawk on arresting and prosecuting those who commit criminal damage. It is also alleged by Octagon that theft occurred, which is very clearly a criminal act.
If the law needs changing in any way to help facilitate arrest and/or prosecution in a case such as this then I would be happy to hear about it from the Police or other informed parties, so that I could then raise it with relevant Ministers.
I am, however, very pleased that these trespassers are no longer on Broadoaks and I do know that incidents like this can be very difficult for the police and local authorities to deal with.
NB. As it happens, since the summer of 2017 Surrey’s MPs have been encouraging the Heads of Legal Services/Borough Solicitors of all Surrey’s Boroughs and Districts to put their heads together and to come up with any and all suggestions that might help Councils and the police to deal with illegal incursions. Where it is thought that new legislation or regulation might be helpful, the Surrey MPs have promised to consider such thoughts and requests carefully and sympathetically, and to press them with Ministers if we think they are sound.