French travellers camp at Cheltenham Arle Court Park and Ride
French travellers have set up a temporary camp at Arle Court Park and Ride just off the A40 on the edge of Cheltenham.
At least 13 caravans and several cars, all with foreign licence plates are parked in a loose scattering at the southern end of the car park overlooked by the B&Q store.
The ad hoc campsite is taking up dozens of parking spaces used by commuters travelling to work in Cheltenham.
One of the travellers, Giovanni Demestre said that the travellers were all from the Paris area and had been in Birmingham for holiday. He added that they were returning to Paris but intended to stay in Cheltenham for a week.
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Three middle-aged men, smartly dressed in blazers and shirts and ties said they had also been in Wales. One, who declined to give his name, said: “There are no gypsy people here. We are all French.”
Reaction from commuters using the park and ride was mixed.
One, Diane Jenkins, from Tuffley said: “It does bother me. Is my car going to be safe? I’ve never had any worries parking here, but I don’t know what ‘ll happen now they are here.”
Another car park user, from Evesham, who did not want to give his name said: “It’s not the first time , it’s happened at least 3 times since I’ve been using the park and ride in about a year-and –a-half, There’s never been a problem. I didn’t realise they were there to start with.”
Waiting for the bus into Cheltenham was Julie Cooke, who lives in Churchdown. She expressed some sympathy for the travelling families, but felt they should stay somewhere more appropriate.
She said: “I’ve a motor home myself , it would be lovely to be able to park anywhere but it’s not allowed.
“We travel to France, it’s so much more easy going over there, so they may not know we don’t do it here. I understand that there’s a shortage of places for these people which is shame, but I don’t think they should be doing this here.
“We have to pay, and they’d have to pay on a campsite, are they going to be charged?”