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Former park and ride site is reoccupied by French travellers
ROMANY Gypsies who moved on to the old Groundwell Road Park and Ride on Saturday hope to be able to stay there for a week.
More than 50 travellers from Paris – all members of the same family – moved on to the site after claiming they found the main gates unlocked.
Police were called to the site within an hour of the travellers parking up to monitor the situation.
Carlos Porado, a spokesman for the group who arrived in 12 caravans, said they were a good Christian family and had come to Swindon after their last stop in Scotland.
He said: “We were here for only 50 minutes before the police arrived. People always say we will make a mess, and we will steal. But we keep it clean and we don’t rob. We want people to come and say hello, to come and have a drink with us and sit down and have a meal with us.
“All people are the same, English, Roma, Irish, Canadian, French, German. We all have the same blood and we are no different to you. This is what Jesus Christ says. We are no different, except we live in caravans and you live in one place.”
The land is owned by Swindon Council, who were alerted by the police when the gypsies were known to have pulled in.
A spokesperson for Wiltshire Police said: “We received a call out at 1pm on Saturday. We attended to keep an eye on the situation and are currently in the process of liasing with the council as well as the land owners to resolve the situation.”
It is the second time in a month the site has been occupied by travellers.
Last month a group stayed for 24 hours after being moved off Dale Farm in Essex.
And in August the building on the site was gutted by a fire.
The park and ride service was binned by the council in 2009 after being considered a drain on resources.
Since then, concerns over vandalism on the site have led to a series of proposals for a new use but these have failed to get off the ground.
The nearest legal site dedicated for use by travellers is the Chiseldon Firs transit site which is managed by the council. The site, located on the A346 between Swindon and Marlborough, can accommodate between 12 and 20 caravans.
For more information about sites where travellers can legally stay can be found at www.swindon.gov.uk.
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