Cemetery is 'desecrated by travellers'

May 5 2005

By Rebecca Haylings

TRAVELLERS who gatecrashed an illegal Pangbourne caravan site after being booted out of Reading are being blamed for desecrating a nearby cemetery.

The site in Pangbourne Hill was home to a small group of travellers who legitimately bought the field but then set up a permanent camp without getting planning permission.

But last month a dozen more caravans - believed to belong to a group of travellers evicted from Battle Hospital grounds in Portman Road - moved onto the field without warning.

And since their arrival neighbours claim part of the village's cemetery is being used as a communal toilet.

One 51-year-old man, who wants to remain anonymous, regularly visits his son's grave in Pangbourne Hill and is revolted at the mess he claims travellers have left in one corner of the cemetery.

He said: "I am absolutely dumb-founded they have actually done this in the cemetery. I am from a family of Romany gypsies and my father would have killed us if he caught us doing that sort of thing - even animals cover their faeces up afterwards.

"If you confront them about anything they just abuse you and threaten you.

"They seem to have no respect for anybody visiting dead relatives. It's terrible."

Pangbourne parish chairwoman Pamela Bale claims many neighbours are becoming extremely distressed by the travellers' actions.

She said: "Villagers and councillors are appalled at the way the cemetery is being used and we all realise we need to take some serious action to do something about that."

The final verdict on whether the original Pangbourne Hill travellers are entitled to stay is expected in the next couple of months, and sources close to them say landowner and fellow gypsy Jonothan Harvey is furious at his uninvited guests.

But Mr Harvey this week denied the accusations, and refused to comment other than to say the newcomers were "welcome to stay".

* rebeccahaylings@readingchronicle.co.uk

Original Internet Source

Editorial Comment: This is one perfect example why the Romanichals in the UK have a particular name (at least the Nidis here down south) for the Irish Travellers.