THE Church of England has been told to give up its land to travellers because they have nowhere else to go.
The motion passed 265 votes to one, despite fears travellers bring “a lot of upset and fear”.
An unauthorised traveller encampment in Bramley Cricket Club, Bramley, Surrey[/caption]
The General Synod – the Church’s national assembly – heard that it was CofE’s “responsibility” to offer its land.
Mary Durlacher, from the Chelmsford Diocese, said travellers made her church and graveyard inaccessible to people when they moved into the car park.
When they did leave the site they left behind human excrement and smashed glass.
Mary told the Telegraph: “It didn’t matter cleaning up the black bags but there was the issue of excrement. My husband and I put on our gloves because the smell was quite interesting.
There was the issue of excrement. My husband and I put on our gloves because the smell was quite interesting
Mary Durlacher, from the Chelmsford Diocese
“They then moved around the area to our second church, the local school and private land. There was broken glass and with it being a hot summer, it set fire to the field. There was a lot of bad feeling.”
The assembly recommended that bishops should “speak out boldly” in the House of Lords against laws that would marginalise travellers.
Radical plans unveiled by ministers earlier this month mean that travellers who set up unauthorised camps could be jailed.
The Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, told the Synod: “It is our responsibility to put this right and the Church can play its part to help find new sites. This motion is a small way of making a change.”
It is our responsibility to put this right and the Church can play its part to help find new sites
The Right Revd Stephen Cottrell
The Right Revd Stephen Cottrell said the church should “play its part” in finding somewhere for travellers to live.
As of July last year there were 22,662 traveller caravans in England, according to government figures. Some 86 per cent were on authorised land, while the remaining 3,000 are on unauthorised sites.
Currently police can only step in to ask travellers to move on if there are at least six vehicles on the site.
The authorities will also be allowed to direct travellers to legal sites in neighbouring council areas. But under the new plans this threshold will lower to just two vehicles.
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Currently they can only be moved to legal sites within the same local authority. Police would also be able to remove trespassers from land that forms part of the highway under the proposals.
Last year 200 travellers set up a in posh Surrey suburb Cobham, infuriating locals.
They were claimed to have defecated on their lawns and caused chaos in the village shops.
Food waste left behind by travellers who set up amp near to a section of the M1 in Houghton Regis in 2017[/caption]
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