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Local council criticised after Travellers camped in Chepstow car park for over a week

The Dell Car park, near Welsh Street in Chepstow (Pic: LDRS)

A CABINET minister has accused his local council of “dragging its heels” after Travellers camped in a public car park for more than a week. 

Monmouth MP David Davies, who serves as the Welsh Secretary in the UK Government, had previously said the county council should have obtained a court order to move the encampment on. 

The Travellers left the Dell Car Park, near Welsh Street in Chepstow, on Bank Holiday Monday, May 6. It’s thought they had been staying there since Friday, April 26. 

Conservative Mr Davies hit out as Monmouthshire County Council and said: “The illegal campers were there for two weeks.

Monmouthshire County Council should have got on to this straightaway instead of dragging its heels.” 

The MP also said concerns about anti-social behaviour had been raised with him and complaints vehicles had been parked across disabled parking bays. 

“Officials should get a court order to demand that the illegal campers move on and, if necessary, get it enforced by the police,” Mr Davies had said. 

Some businesses nearby reported a drop in footfall, with people deterred from using the car park, but also said they hadn’t experienced any other problems. 

Farkham Hall said he’d slept in his motorbike and electric bike and accessories shop for 10 straight nights since the group moved into the car park. 

“I will be going home tonight,” said Mr Hall whose shop is on Rifelman’s Way – a pedestrian lane running from the car park to the town centre. 

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“The floor is extremely uncomfortable but at least it’s nice and firm. But I daren’t leave all this stuff. 

“All the bikes I’ve got here I sell on behalf of others and I’m well insured but I would hate to have to explain a loss to someone so I’ve erred on the side of caution but it’s just me being paranoid I suppose. 

“The big problem is it was keeping people away. The footfall was down to next to nothing for a week, I think, my entire sales came to a can of break cleaner which isn’t satisfactory.” 

The shop owner said people had taken photographs of the shop which made him concerned and there were also rumours of people trying the doors of shops after closing time. 

Farkham Hall said he slept on the floor of his motorbike shop due to security concerns (Pic: LDRS)

Julie White, owner of Julie’s Mucky Pups pet grooming service, opposite said: “A lot of our customers were worried about having to come, one said they’d been up all night worried about where they were going to park.” 

Staff member Tia Ashton said at one point the car park had been closed off by the group who’d placed chairs across the entrance, and she also reported that people had attempted to open shop doors after closing. 

She said: “They had placed a line of chairs across the entrance and there were queues out into the road.” 

Julie White, right, and staff member Tia Ashton, holding miniature dachshund Scooter, pictured at the Dell car park (Pic: LDRS)

Other businesses said they had no issues with the Travellers, but footfall was down. 

Atlanta Cairncross, owner of illustration gift shop, Spookyoaf Studios, at Old Bell Chambers, said: “We had no problem other than footfall.

I did have a message from someone who said they were worried about coming into town but the Travallers were fine and no problem for us.” 

Jake Bryant, of JD’s Barbers, on the corner of the car park, said even with the encampment he believed there was enough space for others to park and Julie Bailey of Chepstow Pet Supplies, which also faces the car park, said it hadn’t caused her a problem, as she doesn’t drive, but had noted vehicles had been parked across disabled bays. 

Monmouthshire County Council staff clearing waste from the car park where Travellers had stayed (Pic: LDRS)
A council van loaded with rubbish bags during a clean up operation at the Dell Car Park after it was used as a camping site by Travellers (Pic: LDRS)

Monmouthshire County Council sent two staff to clear waste left by the Travellers on Tuesday morning. 

St Kingsmark ward Conservative councillor Christopher Edwards said he’d been contacted by residents concerned the council hadn’t taken the issue “more seriously”. Last year he questioned what action the council had taken after an encampment at the town’s leisure centre car park over the Easter period. 

The council said at the time a transit site for Gypsies and Travellers, moving through South Wales, was needed and it would push for one along the M4 corridor, as none currently exist.  

Monmouthshire County Council has been approached for comment.