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24 September 2014

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Patrick is a resident at the Smithy Fen site
Patrick - a resident at Smithy Fen

Smithy Fen: behind the scenes

The travellers site at Smithy Fen in Cottenham has been headline news for nearly two years. iCan reporter Stuart Ratcliffe spent time with a resident at the site to hear what their views are...

The Smithy Fen travellers site in Cottenham is not only a hot topic in our local press, but regularly makes the headlines in national newspapers too. A group of Irish Travellers arrived on the site 18 months ago. Since their arrival, tension has been high between the villagers and the travellers. Local people have blamed the travellers for an increase in anti social behaviour.

"I'd like to reassure the people, give travellers a half a chance and find out they're not the people who you think they are."
Patrick - a Smithy Fen resident

But the issue which underpins the whole argument surrounding Smithy Fen, is the growth and future development of the site. South Cambridgeshire District Council has refused planning permission for new plots at the site, a decision which was challenged by the travellers.

The Smithy Fen travellers site in Cottenham
The Smithy Fen site in Cottenham

Solicitors acting on behalf of the travellers at Smithy Fen are now challenging South Cambridgeshire District Council in the High Court over this decision. The travellers have applied for an injunction to prevent the Council from moving them from 22 disputed plots. The travellers want an assurance that no direct action will be taken against them until they know whether they've been granted a judicial review into the situation.

The Cottenham Residents Association feel the refusal of planning permission must be upheld, or they fear the Smithy Fen site will mushroom. Now the Cottenham Residents Association has been in talks with the Gypsy Council to discuss a land swap plan, which could see some travellers offered other sites in the county and prevent the Smithy Fen site becoming too large.

Our iCAN reporter Stuart Ratcliffe gained exclusive access to the Smithy Fen site and spent several days with Patrick, one of the residents on the site. He’s 68 years old and has now made Cottenham his permanent home.

Click on the links at the top-right of the page to hear Stuart's report and the full interview with Patrick.

What do you think about the situation at Cottenham? Have your say using the form below:

last updated: 08/11/04
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i hope this comment posts i get on with cottanhem lot very well the boys are very nice and the gerls are cival i dont live far from them soo i usally see alot of them about xxx

baby T and gerls
helo annalise im always down smithy fen do u no dede he always with us sometimes me and the gerls are always driving up and down there it is ok it very quiet anyways wryt bk love baby t an gerls

L.m/princess what do you mean peopl call you name's i'am travler and no one call's me name's

my name is annalise me and my fraind's live hear lizzie chelsea amerys/francesca charlot and ar francesca most of us go to school wer all fraind's and we love it hear xoxo

hippie lizzie
smity fen is a wonderfel place but thay are trining to take it away and split us up and driveing us on the road agen but we do not want to do that we wont to luern people do not like us but thay do not no us the one's that do no us tink a lot of us we are diffrent and we are proud to be tank you for lisning to my apinuion rithen by lizzie age 9.(date 24.3.09
people call us name's like pike i dont no what thay mean but it herts. (date 24.3.09)

lizzie mccarthy
me and annalise both live in smithy fen and we love it hear we both go to school and wher happy

why smithy fen why not some wear els because i now lost my boyfrend i will not see hi again bing all them back

annalise mccarthy
im am a travler and i live in smity fen and i love it hear it's a place whear we ar saronded by ar frinds and we ar safe

david moss jr
theres no problem with them bean on the fen i have also lived there wot do u want us to do were ever we live u dont want us there .

treza gel
sure to god by now the irish that took over the womans land have now bin removed and they have gone some where else i dont like the owner of that field she looks like a fool and id tell her if i saw her in the street just what she was she calls them untidy people and did you see in her house on the vidio it was a mess and that man that was on there his chalet and yard was done up all nice and properly with not all papers evry where she aggsarates and im suprised that a gypsy woman hasent told her by now because i would !! what can you do though how come they use to like all the english stopping there then when the irish turned up then they turned like devils!! i think there alright people i dont know um only a couple but gorjars are so against them so gorjars stop with the we hate the irish and doya own thing and im sure theyll do theres

maggie 2english gelt
yer im the one how come you havent been over there have been loads of boys been asking about you when is the next time your coming over then do you still have that sunbed shop i onestly was going to go in there the other day but then i had a million in one tings to do doys still have the car then i herd that you did off one of the boys and then herd that you sold it but give me a write back on here there is alot to talk about

english gelt
2 maggie are you stopping at eadgewere yer!! cos there are loads of irish travlling people stopping there and if you are the one did i pull up at the front of ya house im my red aldi convertiable with the black out windows and asks you about smithy fen and witch way it was but i was chatting to ya for about half and hour an ya little boy with you but there was loads of you boys at the front of your place and one said follow mw through because he came from smithy fen ! if it is gif me a wryt bk yer from english gelt oh and one of the boys asked why i was so dark and i said i owned the sunbed shop and he didnt beleve me !

irish madge and english chantelle
we are both 16 but come from different backgrounds both yer im irish and shes english ! the people down smithy fen hate the english but i donno whay they never mix at the bowling alley some people say to us why are you best friends and i say just cos im irish i dont need to be with irish and she says just cos im english i dont need to be with english

let me say sumink now yer i lve in a house at london and am proud to be and irish travller i was born in england and love the way i live no one can teall me diffent i may live in the house but country people no that i pay the taxes my children go to school they dont get picked on though!!

gypsy bure
ima gypsy bure from london and am down smithy fen most of the time there has never been a probalm with the country peopele bothering us irish

chaneller an natalia
listen were two young ones at the age of 16 and 17 we think that all use paople need to sort ya heads out and maybe listen to the irish and what they want ive never benn down there only to look at the yards


listen were all the same for god sake whats the difference in travllers an gypsys nank u see some chore some dont were all the same just cos there s big family there alryt u know

elizabett m
my cosin married a chap down there there people who dont get left alone i dont like my cosins husband or nuttin becos he doesent work and he has a new up to date car he doesent do any ting and they still get new tings she dont work either but a wife isent is she its hard to say what there like

married irish mylene an teresa an dior and johnnie
my names mylene and im married to an english men his two cousins dior and teresa are here with me and my brother johnnie, our irish tradition is marry irish into irish but i met an english men daddie dint like it either mummy but they know ive got a better life then go with an irish man tings for me are still the same i cook clean go to the discos,i know its better im with an english men any way the girlts want to shout out to caprice tersa dior johnnie abi an all the girlts and boys us lot have not been to smify fen and wouldnt anyway we is london people

i was stopping right near the smithy fen travllers but me dad moved me on im now stopping next door to the dortys and there custytheve picked up my words and ive picked up theres the boy and girl are custy the boys will rob now and then i cant put up for me provisinal yet cuz were still on the move anyway i o drive up and down and will be asked for eventually well soon any way HELLO DAVID SHERRIDAN HOWS YA country bure i got to go youse people im eith me boyfriend see yas later...

Treza loveridge
im a travling girl about 2 mile away from cottanem i goes there sometimes i went wid a boy from ther but i got me back broke over it i know a few boys down ther and ther cushty they dont meen no harm i dont no any girls down ther tho but i sees them down the bowlen ally when im with me brother and david you smashes your motor up all of use have cushty fings im waiten to ge the ground passed and we can put me mums shally on any way i got to say hello to thomas.G. SEE YOUS LATER,

I'm from a small village outside of Cottenham and on several occasions we have had many travelers park up on the verges outside our village. I have never had a problem with travelers however they left such a mess behind which irritated the local people and in fairness makes a bad name for you travelers. If you cleaned up after yourselves then maybe people would not think badly of you.

barry boy henson
i fink its all rong wot the gorgers r doin put them in r shoes then they no wot it is like


david sheridan
im 17 years of age and got a new motor 2 days ago and am gettin a trailer soon and when i get this trailer im pullin on were ever i want not were u beoys want it okay. so what if were travellers if you leave ud alone u wudnt even no we were der

hiya all you travellers out there how meny of you are going 2 stow then love you lods xxxxxxxxx queenie xxxx

gabby n danni
we 16 ane we have lived here most of ar lives,its wrong to jugde us,for whoo us lot are,just leave us we have a right to live were we at....

chardonnay quin
all use people are wrong ive been stoppin on dis site 4 nerli 5 years of my lyf now and all by bois are grown up and my youngest is 14 and he even drives our motor and goes up along side to find work 4 himself with his daddy.. so we can pay taxes un that so all u people if u wanna dis us why dont u try being a traveeler un cleanin and workin all day to get money cuz u wouldnt be able to handle it .

omg all u people need to grow up and just leave the travellers alon for god sake !!! All u people make me so mad cummin on ere and sayin all this bad stuff about them i bet half of u dont no ne travellers cuz if u did u reli would relise they are NICE people my mum is friends with loads of traveller familys and thats how ive bin brought up to get along with thme and im glad i have cuz they are such genuin people and are reli good friends!!!! so big shout out to the prices from histon site and any slatterys from cottenham fen .....!!!

I was born and raised in Cambridgeshire and recall the travellers (mainly Romany Gypsies) coming to our village every year to work on the farms and sell goods door-to-door. I was very young then, but I can't remember any trouble with these kind people - far from it - invariably, trouble in the village was caused by settled folk. There were more stopping places in those days and I believe, less prejudice than there is today. I think life is actually harder for travellers these days due to laws that pander to the worst prejudices in people and have made it well nigh impossible for them to travel freely and maintain the traditions. If people only took the time to talk to travellers, their preconcieved ideas about them would be shattered and they might even learn something of value. This world really saddens me, sometimes.

hollie-mai buckley
this is to TD .....we call ourselves travellers regardless of if we travel now a days or not because we are from travellers blood lines ,most travellers do still travel when we can but its not made easy for us ,hope you understand .We do live within the rest of soceity and go by the rules ,do you know any travellers ? i'm educated ,i went to school ,my dad employs 30 men and runs a legitimate business ,pays taxes etc.We fight for the right to have more sites so as we can pull on without upsetting gorgers ,not so we can stay put ,but if we wanted to stay put we are still travellers from generations right the way back.Buckley is a romany name and i'm proud of who i am ,we make our own way in this world gorger or traveller.

agnes price and irene kent
travelers shoud have the right the same as any outher people

hello im a true romany gypsie i stay in sheffield but move around now and then i think its wrong wats happing to us we dont need this right now they say were dirty and that were tramps but i see different so to all these who think wher dirt have a look at your own self for once this is for gorges who have know respect

i think us travelers have a right to travel after all we were brought up that way and when we wont to settle we have to move and we cant keep on moving all the time so to all these country people out ther mind your bisness

this a moving story

kala price
i live in wales and i think it is wrong wat is happenin down there im a romany gyipse. you all say traverlers and gyipses r dirty well let me tell you somthing were all cleaner than yourl ever be we wash everey day and give are homes a good clean cause loads of pepol come in to are homes it woud be discrasefull to let somone see your home in sush a state were some of you gorges dont even make a bed and have stinkie anamles all round the house wat a desese!but eney way if we woud be allowed to have our own land it woud be spotless

miss price
thanks 2 all of u who know were not all the same were all tryin 2 get on wit are lifes just becouse som do bad dont meen we all do.get 2 no us.thanks jess

What on earth is a gorger? As for the travellers, well I believe live and let live, but it could be helpful for the travellers to show people that they live within the same boudaries as the rest of society instead of being outside of society. And they should be conforming to the same laws that all the rest of us have to, whether we like it or not. Besides what really cracks me up is the fact that most people calling themselves travellers these days don't travel? After all they are fighting for the right to stay in one place, not the right to move on? Curious!

hollie-mai buckley
i am half gorger half traveller ,and there is ways to live happy together as my mam and daddy prooved,they have been together years and all my family get on ,gorgers and travellers alike.charlotte you are a decent gal for wanting gorger friends too,we should all be open minded and live + let live .

shane john henson
im not from the site but i am a traveller just leave them alone they are human beins

charlotte slattery
well i tink its rong dat u people hate us wehavent dun nothing rong please i just want peice and i would lke to make gawja friends to im 14

amy jo hutchinson
you gorgers will never leave us be.god bless you emma louise we are a good strong lot of people and we will fight for our rights,we are not the dinnaloes the gorgers think we are ,we are good lot of people we deseve the right to settle if we wish this is god s world and all land belongs to any man !!!not so and so council ,all travlers need to stand up for ourselves now for our childrens sake if not our own !!!

emma louise
what they have dont to smithy fen is wrong people lived there and theyve destroyed there homes shed un land they wont get away with it tho cuz we'll find a way back !!!!!

anne marie
well neil for youre information we do go to school and can spell so you realy dont no what youre talking about so what if the woman let her children swear whats that got to do with where we live nothin youre just tryin to paint a bad picture of us our lives are OURS and have got nothin to do with you we were born as travellers and thats wat we will stay and we will always find sumwhere to live so you people better get use to it !!!!!!!

jimmy lee
well done amy jo.I agree with you 100%. do your homework first Neil,i know many a gorger to swear badly too !!!

amy jo
please can you print my reply to neil,he is rude and un educated,he has never met any travellers in his life,one experience at a cafe,and by the way i can spell !!!!

I am not a traveller and really have nothing against them. There are good and bad in every ethnic group. Travellers are however doing themselve's no favours when they conform to the stereotypes. I recently sat outside a cafe in Cambridge and watched an Irish traveller women allow her small child climb on and attempt to start a disabled woman's mobility scooter as she dined inside the cafe. Incidently,as I sat there the small child used the f word at least 10 times in as many minutes! The woman said nothing to him! We keep hearing that travelling children go to school. It really is a pity that the grammer and spelling on this message board does not reflect that. All in all, I wish you well but please try and brush up the picture you present to others. I am not an educated person but I do try and maintain some social skills and write ok (and yes there may be a FEW spelling mistakes here). Please just try and challange some of the assumptions others have about you guys-proving those assumptions wrong would be a start. Good luck to you all!

amy jo hutchinson
everybody deserves the chance to live side by side,if yous wont give permision for planning,where else do you expect us to go to?you curse when we travel,you curse when we sit put,we cant win.



friends of mine are waiting to get on to a new site it is a shame there are so few plots.they should make more places for travellers to stay,why should people live how other people live,what is good for one person is not always good for somebody the way me husband does pay taxes and we are all good clean people,why should my babies be living at the side of dangerous roads-GIVE US MORE SITES NOW,BEFORE THE CHILDREN ARE HURT BY BUSY wouldnt risk your childrens lives,give us more sites,we are all people and we deserve to be treated right.i have respect for all people gorgors or travellers but we deserve respect back,there are good and bad in all people ,why are we judged only on the bad.i have beautiful children,my man works hard pays his way and we are clean respectable people,yet some people treat us like animals,if you sat down with us and spoke with us you never no you might even like us !!!

melissa, birmingham
i think its disgusting tryin to move travllers on, we all have equal rights, just cause we are travllers they think were scum!!!!!!!! i bet the gorgors who cause troble round that area dont get nothing at all said to them. let the travllers sty at smithy fen.

hello well im johnie's sister and im only 14 years of age and i love bein a traveller i wouldnt live in a house if sumone paid me to i dont see why people are so bofered about us anyway why do people care what we do when nobody likes us and to some peeple you might think were boferd by you not liking us but we aint we dont need you or noone we got each other and thats all we need we dont need no half bread gawjus or full bread gawjsu so leave us alone

im 19 why do you whant to know? and are u a gawja?

johnie how old are you and were you live at. im 17 and live in cambridgeshire i dont live in a kenna i still live in trailers wb

hello there everyone well i would just like to say that my mum married a traveller and ever since then she lived in a trailer and then had me and my 4 sisters and 3 brothers and weve all bin bought up with a traveller way of living and yeh at times its bad but i still go to skool and can read and write like other children my age but it makes me sad to see people talking about us like were not here and discussin our way of life when u dont no anything about it reli u treat us like were different and thats not what we want we just want to be treated the same as every1 else in the cuminty ok well im going k godbless xx

dont tink wats nice?

fredrick , Spalding
I dont think there very nice!

thats it Johny mush you tell it like it is!

hey big shout out to all the travellers on here and for all u gawja's shut up u dont no nothin bout being a traveller so shut up and Gerard were called travellers 4 a reason so why wud we want to by a house? how can we travel with a house wat u need to relise is that we aint gunna change our ways 4 no one ok so LEAVE US ALONE !

nikkita manning
to gerard im a true romany an half irish on me farvies side what if i sed to you go and live in a trailer an move from road side to road side and place to place could you do it the answer is probly no so dont ask or tell us to live in houses caus we cant do it this is the way we was brought up and this is the way things is and they aint gunna change cos a few gorgers dont like us you cant change wot ur born to be!!!!

hi there, saw the programme on BBC3 the other night for the first time. I'm from Dublin and have had some involvement with travellers over the years. They don't play by the rules, never have and never will, they think they're above the law. Every place in Clondalkin where they stayed was left in tatters. They will leave Cottenham in bits when they're finished, I guarantee it. However! I still support them as long as they're within the law and not doing any harm but there are some bad eggs out there, travelling from county to county sponging off the government, why don't you just buy houses? All the best but I know that with the stubborness of the travellers this issue will never resolve unless the travellers simply comply with the community! All the best, you'll need it!

jess of cottenham
well im 16 years old yeh and i live in cottenham and i get on with both english un irish travellers and none of them are bad people and maybe if some people got to actually no them they wud relise that but no just cuz there travellers ya think there all bad well ur wrong ok xxxx

pashie stevens
jonny smith u tell it like it is boy and all the collers get a life fools get bk x x

Hi, Hope you all sort your differences out. From Belfast Ireland. Lvs you all.

johnny smith
to all the people out there who think us travllers dont pay taxs well ur ROUNGE. We pay it because how can we live some where and not pay water rates eletric gas car tax mot insurace and if we have a perment building on the land we have to pay council tax the settled people think they have to just pay it. They think thay have to pay it for us . but after all we PAY are way . so grow up all the settled coumity and get a proper live and stop worring about us think about looking after your selfs .

barry harris
The rule of LAW. Everyone else has to comply, why not the 'travellers'? We've got a group of around 30 near us - they pitched up about 2 weeks ago.... Pollution, litter, rubbish, the inevitable empty gas bottle or 50, paving slabs all over the place, raw sewage in convenient black plastic bags...... But hey, it doesn't matter, who cares as long as the 'travellers' are allowed to carry on with their 'unique'* way of life and their 'unique' culture - but what about MY culture? ...... Oh yes, sorry forgot, my culture is buried under a PC culture of abject appeasement - hang your heads in shame, you hand wringing politicians... * no taxes paid, no council tax paid, no N.I. - but who gives a damn?

johnny smith
leave us travllers alone and let us try and make a proper life for us to live the setteld peaple dont under stand how hard it is to live a long side the roads its not easy but its nice so let us stay on are own ground if we get proper planning but there is one more thing for me to say if travllers should put planning in before they move on there land will thay get there land passed ? like peaple do with houses i just wonder .

johnny smith
well im johnny and i come from a tralling family i live in hampshire nr london there is no sites in hampshire there was one but that got closed down and now we have loads of peaple stopping along side the roads and it ant nice no warter no no proper waste fersilitys eg toilate but most travllers have tents if only they could give us some were to stay permently they told us down here to buy are own ground so we did and we got that passed thank god but the setteled comuity dont under stand how much time money and effort we put in to are land thas all i got to say. [Edited comment]

How have these travellers got access to the internet? It appears that many would be able to afford proper housing so why don't they rent a home somewhere or take the help the Council gives them when offering houses for rehousing? It would mean that they would have to pay bills and do things legit

there is nothing wrong with travellers leave em alone

im a romany and i live in one place when the school starts. but we shift in the six weeks holiday!! i cant understand why they complain when we stop in one place and then if we shift they moan!!! what are we ment to do??? stay or go!! hurri up and decide

im a romany me dad owns a big place an we settle down here for the winter an wen the weather starts to pick up we move away for the rest of the year. people complain wen we stop in one place an then they complain wen we shift up an down so we cant win either way so we jus do as we like.

A question for both parties..... Why do the travellers not travel? And if your reply is "We can settle in one place if we so desire" then why do you believe you have the right to settle without having to follow the same rules as all other settled people, i.e adhere to the laws of planning permission, of land boundries, etc. ? Why do English legislators simply not do as we have done in Ireland, i.e. (a) create legal and serviced (water, electricity) caravan pitches sporadically throughout the country, and (b) make it strictly illegal to pitch everywhere else for more than three nights. It's not rocket science. Such a shame you're not a republic where the people make the rules rather than it being done by an elitist establishment.

You should be aware that Irish travellers (often derogatorily referred to as 'tinkers') are the descendants of peasant families evicted for non-payment of rent by English landlords in Ireland in the early part of the 19th century. They had nowhere to go but take to the roads and have been there ever since. Now they have turned up in Cambridgeshire (wasn't Cromwell born there?) It's all karma, you see.

If people respect each other and the environment, pay taxes, contribute to the good of the community, then everything should be okay. If not, then it becomes a problem. People, no matter who they are cannot just take, they have to give back, its what community is all about. I do also have concerns looking at some of the messages here though, communication is vital and the Grammer and use of language on some of these is poor. This will create a divide of its own and breed further mistrust.

mary jane rooney
Iam a travler and I may not live there but you shoud try and make peace because if you be nice well be nice

ali n sarah
we think that people shoud give travellers a chance because some are nice n some r horrible, so just give a chance.

i think it is wrong

i think is wrong

jess friends of travellers
i use to hang around with some of the irish travellers and they are not as bad as you say if you get to no them u would understand so i dont get why everyone slags them off what do they do wrong to us nothing reli !!!!!!!!!!!!!! and if miss price is a relation to drewy and sarah un jessie then hya lol xxx

i think that they have to live somewhere cut them a bit of slack god. if anyone else was in that situation then no1 would bitch or moan!!!!!!!

i use to hang around with some of the irish travellers and they are not as bad as you say if you get to no them u would understand so i dont get why everyone slags them off what do they do wrong to us nothing reli !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jay gain
we think that people should give travellers a chance

Andrea Conway
I have visited the site in cambrige and it is clean and respectable.People should live and let live.Imyself married a romany man ,but there is nowhere for us to go any more ,its a shame these a lovely people

mr barradell
i would like to say im a country person has the travellers put it and i think that everybody bad mouths the travellers if they just tried to get on with theese people it would be brilliant instead most people snub them after all they are just trying to make there own way of life and i dont see any harm in that these travellers have also been let down by our own british govt time and time again so before any casts the first stone i suggest that they try to get to know theese people

mrs quin
lisen at the end of the day im an english travlering beour im married with 3 babys we have 2 motors and 3 tralers 1 traler is the kitchen then me and my husband have a traler and the babys share on our plot were plumbed up we hav a shour and a bath we are verry happy here my husband gets good work if we hav 2 move it will NEVER BE LIVED DOWN at the end of the day dont judge a book by its cover my babys go 2 skool and they can read and write my oldest child is 7 he drives my motor up and downi dont see any harm in it my self thanks for reading this x x

annmarie quinn 2 b
hay vanessa lisen u think that we are all bad but im no angle theres good and bad in every1 one i stop near the site i used 2 stop on one of the plots and then we got kicked off coz of all u country people just wont leave us be we all need sumwere 2 live at the end of day i bet u stop in an old councle place well all my tralers and motors are mine

didi ci
vanessa can i just say we aint travellers we are romanies so get your facts right!!!!!!!!

I would like to remind the travellers that they are TRAVELLERS - SO GO AND TRAVEL!!!

didi ci smithy fen site
i aint mentioning no navs coz il get loud. i live on this site an i don wana get off im only a young raklea 16yrs i like it ere i dont no where we guna jell wen we ave to shav were probly guna ave to shift on the side of the road wid no letric, parnie an no muterin tans how unhygenic is that? i dont c y we ave to go we aint hurtin none of the colliers what ave they got against us we aint done nofink rong me da paid good cams for are bit of land an it should be ours an nobody elses the colliers wouldnt like it if they bought a care an then us romanies said we dint like em an they couldnt even sell up they jus had to go an leave evryfing behind IT JUST AINT RIGHT IS IT. wen we ave to go u do relise there is goin to be ruptions between the romanies an colliers. i jus want sum1 to answer me this WERE ARE WE MENT TO GO! [Edited comment]

Lacey marie Doherty
I am a true romany and i cant see why the colliers hate us we all get tarred with the same brush theres good and bad in evry1. i live in a vardo and ive got 17 gri's and two coursing jooks an i could neva live in a care.

Debbie ex-Cambridge
We used to live in newnham, and one day these six caravans rolled up and set themselves up in the lo9cal park. It was disgusting, the way those people behaved. Used gas cylinders, dirty nappies everywhere. Well, sure enough, the police did something - they moved them on. And why shouldn't the police do that? The particular land where they set up had no facilities, no running water. My understanding of the current law is if I plonk my mobile home on the grass verge somewhere, and when the police or council tell me to move on, I claim to be a traveller, they have an obligation to provide me with somewhere suitable, at no cost to myself, to pitch my caravan. And I wouldn't have to pay for the services that council is obligated to provide. When you view this in terms of the 'other', i.e. the travellers in our midst, it seems so unfair, but it is NO DIFFERENT to what a council where any poor, homeless person chooses to front up would do anyway. If you and your family arrived in cambridge, poor and homeless, the council have an obligation to house you, in suitable accommodation. And pay your rent. And not charge you council tax. What I don't like about the Smithy Fen situation is the way the travellers moved onto private land - the lady who owned the orchard, - and, even with a court order confirming the land belonged to the orchard owner, she gets no support at all to remove those people illegally trespassing. Is trespass a criminal act or not? If yes, then why aren't the police enforcing the law and evicting the trespassers? If a non traveller saw someone's orchard, decided it's a good spot, and moved onto the land, the police would remove them. Not the council, but the police. Yes, the councils are obligated to provide travellers seeking shelter in their jurisdiction with lodgings, be that 'lodging' land with services for a mobile home or a proper dwelling. But private citizens are not required to do this. So why has that poor woman not received the protection due to her, both from the council and the police, by evicting the illegal trespassers? Sorry for the long rant.

I don't think this should be seen as a personality contest. Many people, traveller or no, are perfectly affable. The problems stem from the over-expansion of the Smithy Fen site, which has been rapid and (in part) illegal. No wonder the residents of Cottenham have rebelled when they see others flouting the same laws that they pay council taxes to uphold. Having known Cottenham for the last twenty-five years I can honestly say it has been a very different place recently. Rubbish and tipping are now common-place. Verbal abuse seems now part of the landscape. I hope that a satisfactory conclusion can be found benefitting both travellers and residents of the village.

i believe that travellers are treatd alot more un fairly than people believe. Terry brownbill a campaigner against the travellers should not be campaigning to get rid of the travellers but to get them more fixed legal sites in which they can move to. i also believe that people dont understand what is goin on with the Irish travellers. In Ireland there is a law that travellers are moved on every three days. this is the reason they come ove to England, so they can settle, many of you also think that they should not be classed as travellers as they dont travel but 'traveller' is a birth right, just the same as being english is being english and australian is australian. may think i am being biased but i live in Cottenham myself infact right near the site and whenever any of them go past they always say hello to me. I believe that else the media had made them seem worse than they are as all of the media seems to only contain the views and popinions of the cottenham residents, accept this page, and i admire this reporter as most reporters would be afraid to go down to the site. infact i am studying travellers at the moment and have to visit the site. the travellers make me more than welcome as when they try and voice their opinion i listen whereas at the public meeting they just have people shouting back at them. sam

i think that they should leave the travellers alone what have they done to people all they want to do is live in peace

Matt support the Traveller Law reform Bill then and speak out against the lack of legal pitches. Then they'd all pay taxes. Even on Smithy Fenn 60% of residents are paying regurlaly their council tax, a figure easily checkable to all under freedom of information act. It's bizzare here some automatically assmue living in a trailer, bungalow or caravan means you dont. I can assure you you do.

Matt Jackson
If a "resident" on a traveller site doesn't pay council tax, then why should they use all the facilities of the city. I'm sure that if these temporary residents were made to pay their way in the community (and thus be forced to give something BACK to it) the community would be a lot more tolerant. Just IMAGINE is a new public facility was built USING travelller money. The city as a whole would feel more accepting of their presence. As it is now, we all feel that they are living for free at our expense.

Im a new age traveller I found there life intresting and desided to by a trailer I have live in it a year now. Im not living on a site as its on fiar to homeless gypsies. I hope everthing goes ok with the gypsies as the smithy fen site. I understand what people are saying they should travel if there called traveller but they cant travel beucase theres no were eles for them to go.

I am a romany gypsie who has just got together with an irish gypsie he is really nice to me and his family now exsept me and I get on with them. sum gypsies cause trouble sum dont. there is 2 sides to every story its now time u heard ours. Not all of us hurt people and try to ruin lies. we jsut wnat sum where to live and go to skool we dnt only get called travelers we get called gypsies and that name dnt suggest that we should travel. we dnt ask for more rights we just want to live our way of life and live in our culture and thats not living in a house.

People living here have been here for 18 months now there site looks fine from what I see if they left them alone thed see there not so bad as people make out. they dont give them a chance as soon as travelers arrive they start trying to get rid of them leave them alone and they will leave u alone.

susan bedforshir
i think it`s a problem that gone on foe years and will not be put write over night people cont make up thre minds what thay wont thay don`t wonr us on the side of the road`s but thay don`t wont off the road`s what are we to do.

youth of cottenham
I think that it is a serious problem and needs to be dealt with seriously and quickly. But I feel that the cottenahm residents association are wrong in what they are saying about the police. The police are doing all that they can and I think that sometimes their hands are just tided. All of the authorities are doing what they can, but it needs to be a joint effort from all of the authorities together.I think that land swap is not the answer and eviction is our only option.

I agree with most people - if they're 'travellers' then they should be moving around the country. If they stay in one place and make a 'home' then they should get the required permission, pay the required taxes etc like the rest of us. They want to live by their own rules. Everyone is entitled to live as they choose, each to their own and all that, but there are proper ways to do things! [This comment has been edited by the BBC Cambridgeshire web team]

Mark Jordan
Patrick and the other travellers could be the nicest people in the world, but this still shouldn't enable them to develop green belt land. I am sympathetic to the need for more sites to be provided for them, however i do not believe that they should be able to disregard planning laws to address the shortage of official sites. In addition, it seems quite tempting to take up a 'nomadic life'; 'the Portacabins on wheels' are very big, and cheap to purchase- in fact, i may consider becoming a (static) traveller myself!

This clash of cultures is fuelled largely by Irish travellers (rather than indigenous Romas) who come here because the benefits are better and the police/courts softer than in Eire. Before the racism chant comes out I might point out that (a) I come from an irish background and (b) I used to work for the Benefits dept. The state of the sites after they leave is appalling. Its interesting to note that official sites are not always used because of the 'supervision' on them. Either the Goverment decides that the blight on the environment is a price the country side communities have to live with, or that the human rights of rural residents takes precedent over those who have chosen not to live by the same rules as the majority. Its no use pretending that these problems don't exist by lumping all travellers as one, because the tolerance of campaigners would soon become a NIMBY attitude if they themselves had to live with the consequences of having one of these encampments next door to them. Frankly a benefit and Tax crackdown, as well as more serious police/court action coupled with not allowing the bought land to be broken into patches for later resale (or maybe preventing resale for XX number of years) would make this a less attractive environment to those who care nothing for our society, whilst maybe allowing the issues to be resolved with those who are prepared to respect the rules.

I have no issue with genuine travellers who respect the law of the land. However there are a number of travellers who feel no compulsion to adhere to the law, be it planning, waste disposal or animal cruelty. Where I live in South Glos there is a prevelant problem with travellers and all the above; namely disposal of domestic AND industrial waste of sites occupied by travellers, as well as the pollution of water courses with effluent. Numerous breaches of planning and building regulations. And more recently the abandonment and ultimately, death of numerous horses and ponies left by travellers. No one has been prosecuted for these crimes. It costs our LA tens of thousands of pounds to clear up. At the sametime Council provided sites are virtualy empty year round.

just leave the gypsys a lone there not harming anyone i think the countrys racist against gypsies

miss price
the reason why we park our caravans on car parks is because we cant get planning permission on our own land if we get evicted off our land then we will have to start moving on car parks because we will have nowhere to go we are not dirty people with rubbish everywhere we look after our land and keep it clean there are only 6 familys of us in histon and we dont cause no bother at all and we pay our council tax.

irish travellers are the true people of ireland they even pre-date the celts so mark from dublin u need to get your fackt right the travellers should have more of a right than you as they are the true irish

I was interested to hear one of the "travellers" on your news report say that he did not understand what people had against them,I would like to tell him,,here in northampton we also have a problem with regular tavellers camping on school sports fields,recreation grounds ,parks etc,always leaving a mountain of rubbish and filth when they are moved on and usualy costing the local council tax payers around £3000 to clear up.I have every sympathy with the people of cottenham some of whom will not be given planning permission for a garage,whilst a few hundred yards away these "travellers"will be allowed to build a shanty town and behave just as they wish. Welcome to our brave new world.

I am a young person of cottenham. And have been verbally abused most times I go up the street. And the other thing that bugs me is that the travellers don’t have to go to school and there parents don’t get put in prison for this. It is classed at the travellers’ law. But officially they are not travellers they are just people who don’t want to live in houses and create hassle for cottenham.

Nikki, Cambridge
One of the most frustrating things about travellers is their desire to have it both ways. On one hand they complain that they aren't being treated fairly or are being singled out and stereotyped; and then by the same token they continue to draw attention to themselves with their anti social behaviour in villages like Cottenham. It's also interesting that they seeem to think they can behave however they like in Cottenham village but as soon as anyone comes near their site it's "harassment".

Martin James
The travellers are no longer "travellers". You mention Patrick has made the site his "permanent" home - maybe they should now pay council tax?

Phil Baker
Just seen an item about evictions of travellers from one of the other illegal sites in the region. A woman said that she just wanted to be treated like other people and settle in one place. She IS being treated like other people. None of us could build a house wherever we want without going through the planning process. I would be really interested to hear why these people think the laws that apply to the rest of us don't apply to them.

gillian bellars
I had to prove I could make a living off the land before I could build. I had to jump thru hoops to get temporary permission for a mobile home. I can't build houses on my land for my elderly parent or my children. The law must be equal for all. The travellers are more equal than the law biding tax payers in Cottenham.

Samantha, Cambridge
I have seen the Smithy Fen travellers site, and that is enough. It is a tip. It is grossly unfair that people who wish to live outside the law should nevertheless be able to shelter behind the law whilst normal members of the public are helpless to protect their living environments. What on earth is the matter with this country? Don't law-abiding people have any rights?

Chris they don't 'buy a house' because they are nomadic peoples, part of 200 million world wide, who have never lived in houses since the beggining of time and have no wish to start now.

T Miller
It seems one rule applies to normal law abiding, tax paying public and one for travellers who pitch up where ever they like and create a mess

some people seem to focus on the gypsies "sponging off society" and it is very easy to point the finger... but how many of those people in their daily lives don't cut corners a little... many people claim endless benefits, others indulge in tax avoidance and how many times do you hear even the most respectable people boasting about a slighlty inflated insurance claim. It is all a matter of degree, I defy anyone to say that they are perfect all the time, but it is so easy to point the finger at gypsies.

I live in a small village called Bentley on the Surrey Hants border. travellers arrived a week ago having purchased Land worth £3000 for £30000. The local school is full and some residents have to drive children to a neighbouring town, yet the school has been forced to create 12 spaces for the Travellers childern. How can this be right? The village residents pay tax etc, yet these travellers cause chaoes wherever they go, pay no Tax, and get all the rights. Mr Blair should give the coutry back to decent honest folk and evict travellers to do what their name suggests.... Travel!

Travellers have a bad reputation. This is no accident or prejudice - it is most people's personal experience. I have picked their soiled nappies out of hedgerows after theyve left. I have been conned out of money by them. We all have stories. These arent myths. We all need to face facts.

gary parker
As a resident of another village similarly afflicted by illegal encampment of 100+ 'travellers', i feel nothing but extreme sympathy for the vilagers. All I can suggest is withdrawal of Council tax commencing immediatly - we have 4500 Counciltax payers @ approx £1200 each = £5.4million of revenue that will be unpaid - effectively bankrupting the council. These illegal encampments are a blight on the surroundings & NEED CLOSING DOWN - by all means possible. the High Court are a bunch of do-gooder,lefty liberal NIMBY's, who seeem to have some romantic notion of travellers as being freiendly Romanys, who deserve a chance to live peacefully.

Natalie, not Cottenham
What I find particularly galling after reading about Travellers’ sites is the inequality of situation where some people (like myself) have to do it traditional way – borrow silly amounts/pay extortionate rent and fund services we do not really get to boot (at the moment I cannot see a GP and local ‘free’ school proved unusable for my kid). Yet if I bought myself a plot of land to stick a caravan on it I doubt I would have got gravy train of Legal Aid and suchlike. I do wonder if these sites really are as bad as they are made out to be.

Stephen Roberts
One quick answer - charge a ludicriously large amount of rates for the land. This way, the 'residents' of the camps pay for the privelege to stay there (and of course, the repair and cleanup costs). If they refuse to pay, which is more than likely, it's much easier to enforce an eviction under law.

Mark, Dublin
I wish to apologise on behalf of my country for the discraceful acts carried out by those who have invaded your quiet and peaceful area. The 'travelers' who have commited the crimes and anti-social behaviour should be delt with by the police in the most strict of manner. I am sickened that these people are using government money to raise legal challenges while many are petty criminals. I hope the British government deal with these criminals in the correct way. Once again my sympathies to the people of Smithy Fen.

I think this is a terrible situation. Alot of travellers are fine but it seems to be the irish ones that are causing all the trouble. I was a victim of their anti-social behavior and know many other people that have been to. It's just a shame the police are to affraid to go down to the site and do anything.

Bob , Rampton
It is a shame that the neighbouring village to Cottenham has been overlooked. Namely Rampton which has been invaded by travellers from Smithy Fen who sold their plots to irish travellers at a vast profit. They have illegally encamped on the outskirts of a beautiful small village. Bringing with them the same antisocial behaviour as witnessed in Cottenham.

tony bulkington
same problem in bulkington they are in england because they are not allowed to flaunt the laws of the land in ireland you will find its the same all over england soft touch they no it

Stephen, Cottenham
It is really important that everyone should understand that any protest from the people of Cottenham against the unplanned development at Smithy Fen is not racist. It is a reaction to antisocial behaviour and to the fact that planning regulations are ignored.

Nick, Cottenham
What is required in Cottenham is a demonstrable fairness in dealing with the situation. Equality in enforcing planning regulations, equality in dealing with the unruly elements in both the settled and traveller communities, and equality in providing opportunities for both. The council has signally failed to provide facilities for the travelling population, but it is not fair to expect the residents of Cottenham alone to have to pay for the council's incompetence, either in terms of taxation or in terms of the impact on our lives. The government must intervene and force the council to meet its obligations to BOTH communities; the trouble is that this comes under John Prescott's remit. Given the fact that even replying to straightforward correspondence from the sitting MP has taken him several weeks in the past, I do not hold out much hope for any intelligent or coherent action from him. Perhaps, for once, the Government should start to look at problems affecting Britain, and concentrate on issues closer to home than Washington or Baghdad.

Alan, Hertfordshire
There is some case for providing sites for indiginous 'travellers', but they should be subject to the same laws as everybody else, or we will have many people deciding to buy a plot of land wherever they want and living on it, so what will the country look like then?. But there is no reason why we should be obliged to provide sites for people who decide to come here from Ireland and do what ever they want. They are the kind of people who target the old and vulnerable with unnecessary house repairs at rip off prices - the reports nearly always say 'Irish accent'.

John, Cottenham
Many people are against the travellers living here, many more against an uncontrolled expansion. It comes down to the law. Local people must abide by planning law, the travellers are not. They have illegally occupied much of Smithy Fen, and will be evicted. The law applies to everyone.

Chris, Histon
Wonder who is funding all the legal representation the travellers seem to have? Probably the State through Legal Aid. Judging from the expensive vehicles these people drive, they should not be entitled to any state assistance. For that matter, if they can afford such flash cars, why don't they buy a house instead of sponging off the state

I spend a lot of time near Smithy Fen. Very often young lads from 10 years plus are seen driving up the fen road. Unfortunately although there are a few good people that live on the site it seems that there are considerably more that act in a less than legal way. Many of the parents seem to have little control of their darling jimmy's and patrick's bahaviour.

katie fiddian
I'm a resident of smithy fen and love living here. it's not fair that the villagers are trying to get rid of us. are future is in your hands.....

Douglas, Cottenham
The negative tittle tattle from other residents is depressing, and symptomatic of the atomised society in which we live - NIMBY's springs to mind. Where is the love? We should embrace all peoples and include them in our community.

Pete, cottenham
Yes the travellers do speed, park on paths and yellow lines. But so do other drivers who speed through cottenham as a rat run of the A14. If the travellers paid taxes and other bills that we all have to pay, then I have no problem at all. If they dont, then why should anyone pay for things?

Lucy, Ely
If the councils provided enough proper sites for Travellers and Romanies, or let them build their own, small sites in suitable locations, there wouldn't be this problem. I take issue with claims that travellers "sponge off the state" - how on earth could you possibly know that? Do you think tax inspectors and such like don't visit them? Many travellers and Romanies do useful work, like farm labour, tarmacking and scrap metal, which the country needs. And as for theft and anti-social behaviour, I've never been to Cottenham, but, like David said, it certainly isn't the local traveller kids in my town who hang around drinking and causing trouble. And whenever travellers come through our way, crime rates only rise because the local theives know if they do anything the travellers will get the blame. All the Romanies and travellers I've ever known have been the nicest, most polite people I've ever met (and with the cleanest homes, I might add).

Ted, Cottenham
Face it the council arn't going to do anything. They'll refuse planning permission but they're far too wooly and liberal to try and enforce anything. Bless em they're too worried about someone claiming under the 'Human Rights Act'

Residents need to read the planning applications section of the evening news (last night). TWO more "applications" for six more caravans..get the feeling this is going to drag on

David, Cottenham
As a resident of Cottenham, I have not had any problems with any of the travellers that I have met in the village shops, indeed most of them have been perfectly friendly. I would also like to point out that it is very easy to blame the travellers for all of the speeding / anti-social behaviour, but we should also perhaps look closer to home as the gangs of youths that hang around my estate every night causing trouble are certianly not travellers!

John Smith
These "people" have bigger caravans than some of us have houses. They sponge off the state whenever they can and yet the only thing they contribute to it is the filth and rubbish they leave behind them when they move on. Why do we put up with them. If they want out of society then they can't have it both ways. Out is out - not out when they choose. No tax - no benefits and no health care. It sounds harsh but it's the only way.

Stuart - Cottenham
Time for the council to move them on. If these are travellers as they say, then why the need for planning permission? If the site is capped and numbers limited, then the villagers and the Irish can get on.

Ken, Cambridge
Legally why is it that ANY person or organisation which causes an escape of either liquids, chemicals or other mess onto adjoining land have to pay to have it cleared up. When Travellers who leave untold mess and rubbish as we have recently seen in Cambridge do not?

Kay, Cottenham
Despite all the claims of so called "legitimate" travellers, the majority of the people living at the Smithy Fen site are rude, obnoxious and generally a menace when they head into the village or neibouring towns. Bring back the previous family who were living there and get rid of this lot.

Gig Haddenham
Why dont the inland revenue decide to audit these people to ensure they are paying tax on their earnings, you might see most of them disappear over night !!!!

Chris, Willingham
The future of travellers sites like Cottenham should be decided by Government. A proper, coherent national strategy is needed to sort this mess out.

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