by Michael Smith
Travellers proved no match for a Bedford builder who forced them off his land by digging a moat around their camp.
Francis Shiner resorted to the measures when Travellers set up camp on the disused car park of a building site in Bedford and refused to leave.
The Travellers were asked to leave because they were hindering work on the site owned by SDC Construction, but they refused.
Workers, so it is said, then put 2.5m high metal fencing around the camp and left a 1.5m gap for the Gypsies to leave through.
When the Travellers still refused to leave, and actually hung their washing on the fence, Shiner sent in a digger to create a moat around the camp, telling them they could leave or be trapped.
They left that evening.
Shiner told the media: “We spoke to them and requested them to move on, but they said they could not do that.
“That is when we advised them that a digger would be around later in the day and if they were still there they would be trapped in – they could please themselves.”
A Bedfordshire police spokesman said if the Travellers had been trapped in the moat, the landowners would not have broken the law.
While one cannot and should not condone the actions of those Travellers the actions of the building company also was despicable. First of a 1.5m wide gap would not allow a trailer to get through, in my calculations, not even a standard car and in all honesty the company should have involved the law.
All things considered, and the police is at fault here, the builder Mr. Shiner has himself broken the law, of that I am sure. His actions would fall foul of a number of legislations and the police should really consider charging him with a number of felonies. In addition to this it was the builder more than the Travellers, in this instance that, according to common law, would have caused a “breach of the peace”.
But, no doubt, Mr Francis Shiner is seen as an upstanding member of the community unlike the dirty Gyppos that had the “audacity” to set up camp on that car park.
© M Smith (Veshengro), December 2008