Travellers face concrete block obstacle at Hardwicke
TRAVELLERS who try to access empty land in Hardwicke will now be faced by strong gates and solid concrete.
The Highways Agency has secured its land off the B4008, which was occupied for almost three months between July and September.
The news comes after the agency racked up a bill, thought to have totalled more than £12,000, for private security contractors who patrolled the site 24-hours a day with dogs for around six weeks.
Mark Newman, whose Gloucester-based company NSGL has been providing the service, said the operation had been a success.
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"We had a few suspicious-looking people sniffing around and a few people slowed down as they went past, but they weren't going to try anything while we were there.
"As far as we're concerned, the job ended for us at around lunchtime on Friday. They were just putting the finishing touches to it."
He said the Highways Agency had reinforced the gate posts, which were damaged while the travellers were on the site over the summer, and put concrete crash-barriers in place to stop vehicles.
Ian Butler, chairman of Hardwicke Parish Council, hopes this latest effort is enough to safeguard the site in the future.
He said: "I am glad it draws this saga to a conclusion.
"I assume they are robust enough so we won't see another invasion there.
"A lot of money has been spent to stop people getting on the site recently, and someone has to pay the bill.
"So this seems like a good way of closing off the area.
"I didn't hear of the travellers causing any trouble when they were there, but they left a horrendous mess, and again, someone has to pay for that to be cleared up."
Meanwhile, a Highways Agency spokesman said: "Following a review of security, a contractor has been instructed to place a barrier at this site.
"The security guard will be withdrawn upon completion of the work."
After travellers finally left in September, weeks after they were given notice to leave, security guards were employed around the clock.