Devon pub owner fears another closure as Travellers return

-Credit: (Image: Google Maps)
-Credit: (Image: Google Maps)

Another group of Travellers has pitched up on a council-owned park in Newton Abbot. The owner of a nearby pub says he fears it means he could have to close for the second time in less than a month.

It's understood that the group arrived onto Osborne Park yesterday (June 23), with video footage shared on Facebook showing at least 10 caravans and other vehicles. It's the second time this month that a Traveller group has settled on the playing field, with the previous encampment having stayed for around 12 days.

Chris Cutts, who owns The Maltings Taphouse and Bottle Shop, which looks out onto the park, closed his premises for a week while the previous group were in situ. This followed an "intimidating" incident, during which one man allegedly pushed past him, after being informed that members of the Traveller group would not be allowed into the pub.

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Chris says his decision to not allow them onto the premises was not due to discrimination, but was because of incidents of violence and theft the year before, which were believed to have involved some members of this particular group.

He says he decided to remain closed to keep staff and customers safe. He told DevonLive on June 10: "I can't risk an incident which could lead to our permanent closure or serious injury.

"With no security firms being interested in covering our doors, I don't feel like I can protect the customers or staff, especially after that initial confrontation. We're taking a huge financial hit but we can recover from that, whereas if someone gets hurt".

Chris told DevonLive this morning (June 24) that Osborne Park was occupied by Travellers again. The pub is usually closed on Mondays but says he's "not hopeful" that The Maltings will be able to open as normal tomorrow (June 25), when it is due to host Teignbridge Climate Action's climate festival with live music and exhibitions.

Osborne Park is owned by Teignbridge District Council (TDC) and displays a sign which says: "Vehicles are prohibited in the park and may be removed without notice."

DevonLive previously contacted TDC to ask if it was aware of the Traveller group at the park earlier this month and we received no response. We have contacted the authority again about the current occupation of the site and are yet to receive a response.

TDC posted the following statement to its Facebook page, just after 2pm this afternoon: "We are aware of an unauthorised encampment in Osborne Road Park, Newton Abbot. We are following the relevant legal process to remove this unauthorised encampment."

In the post, the council also included a link to its website which explains how they deal with unauthorised encampments. If it is land owned by TDC, they say they will visit the site to speak to occupants, assess any legal needs, hold a review discussion with relevant agencies such as the police and may then commence legal proceedings to evict the group.

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