A community clean-up operation has been mounted after travellers left behind a “horrendous” trail of mess and destruction in a village near Ripon.
Travellers who parked their caravans on Humphrey Balk Lane in Baldersby, just off the A1(M), have left piles of rotting food, muddied carpets and human faeces on the site after being forced to relocate by Ripon police.
“I have sympathy for travellers but they have left behind a horrendous mess and it’s up to us to clear it up,” said County Coun Bernard Bateman.
“We have had various problems with travellers around the A1(M) who have left a mess before – but there seemed to be even more travellers there this week.”
Coun Chris Brown, chairman of Baldersby Parish Council and Baldersby St James Parish Council – who owns the Humphrey Balk Lane land – rallied a group of six local volunteers together to clean up the mess in the snow on Monday morning.
“They have left huge heaps of mess and nobody has bothered to clear it up so it’s left up to us,” he said. “Piles of rubbish have been thrown out of the caravans.
“Our worry now is that we are on the radar for other traveller groups. We are working to make the land vehicle proof by putting soil behind the fences and making a bond to try and stop anyone else from settling here.”
Mr Brown, 66, alerted Ripon police to nearly 40 caravans parked on the site last week and the travellers were forced to leave by Sunday, March 10.
A police spokesman said: “Orders were given to leave by Sunday and they left on time.”
But for Baldersby resident Tim Helps, 71, the biggest issue is not travellers settling in the area but the damage they leave behind.
“It is very sad all round,” ex-soldier Mr Helps told the Gazette. “Travellers do themselves no favours. I was pretty open-minded about the travelling community but there has been vandalism and their toilet habits were haphazard.
“They’ve taken fences and attempted to burn them and I’ve found handbooks on how to use Chinese chainsaws among the mess.”
Mr Helps said he found piles of human faeces with toilet paper on the site, which were left exposed and had to be cleaned up by the volunteers.
“Piles of human waste were left across the whole stretch of the land,” said Mr Helps.
Despite Humphrey Balk Lane being private property, residents enlisted the help of Harrogate Borough Council to help remove the waste.
A council spokesman said: “Travellers have now left private land in the village of Baldersby. These travellers left excessive amounts of waste and the council has been supporting villagers to clean up the site.”