East Herts Council orders Little Hadham travellers to leave field immediately
A group of travellers who occupied a field in Little Hadham on Good Friday and started to build a road across it have been formally ordered to leave, amid fears that up to 50 families in caravans would be moving onto the land this weekend.
East Herts Council (EHC) said that its officers had issued stop notices to prevent any further work at the site, off Chapel Lane near Westland Green.
"We will continue to monitor the situation with police over the weekend," it said on Friday. "The next step is to initiate legal proceedings on Tuesday."
But on Saturday morning it instructed a barrister to obtain an injunction because the work had not stopped. This process took most of the day.
The council announced at 5.30pm: "We have been back to the site just now and served the injunction.
"This means the land must be vacated immediately and restored within seven days. Many thanks to police colleagues who attended [the] site with us."
Police were alerted to the travellers' occupation of the field soon after 8.30am on Friday. Villagers' photos showed men operating heavy machinery, including a digger, as they built a road, and lorries were pictured carrying hardcore up and down Chapel Lane.
Cllr Geoffrey Williamson, the EHC member for the Little Hadham ward, said on Friday: "It transpires the travellers bought this field a short while ago. East Herts Council has been working all day on this, but as they are on their own private land we have no powers to evict."
One villager told the Bishop's Stortford Independent on Saturday: "It has been reported that travellers are digging up the public highway in order to illegally access utilities and direct them onto the site.
"Trees and shrubbery have been damaged in the process to build a road, in a conservation area.
"Noise has been incessant since the construction work began on Friday.
"Neighbours have been told that 50 families are due to move in this weekend."
A spokeswoman for Hertfordshire Constabulary said on Friday: "Police were called shortly after 8.30am today (Friday, April 19) to report that potentially unauthorised building works had commenced on land off Chapel Lane.
"As the incident is a civil matter, it is being led by the local authority at this time. Officers are continuing to monitor the situation."
More by this authorPaul Winspear