Villagers call for action on Pagan siege
AVEBURY Parish Council is pressing the National Trust to take stronger action against travellers who camp in the village's tourist car park to celebrate Pagan festivals throughout the year.
Councillors say residents feel they are under siege when large groups of revellers descend on them, not just at the summer solstice, due on Monday night, but at Imbolc at the beginning of February, Ostara or spring equinox, Beltane or May Day, Lughnassad or Lammas at the end of July, Mabon or the autumnal equinox and Yule or the winter solstice.
Parish council chairman Jennifer Baldrey said problems began in the village following the Battle of the Beanfield in 1985 when the police and the National Trust stopped access to Stonehenge at the summer solstice.
"First a small group of people came but it has grown year on year," she said.
"The problem could be stopped immediately if the National Trust would take the appropriate action, but it seems unwilling or unable to do so.
"It must be remembered that on all occasions except solstice there are no facilities for toilets and water in the car park. Footpaths in the vicinity are used as toilets and this is unpleasant for both residents and visitors alike.
"We are very grateful to the local police for making things bearable for us. Avebury people are very patient but they are being pushed too far. The police can't afford to keep policing all year round and the National Trust are strapped for cash and haven't got the staff."
There have been complaints of travellers screaming obscenities just feet from villagers' windows and fears of the spread of disease because of the unsanitary conditions when toilets are not provided.
Richard Henderson, property manager for the National Trust at Avebury, said they had had frequent discussions with the parish council and were in the process of working something out.
He said: "We have tightened things up. People were coming every weekend to camp at Avebury and we have worked closely with the Sacred Rites Forum to narrow that down to the eight sacred times of the year.
"If we didn't allow them to camp in the car park, they would move into the centre of the village and I think people would find that even more unpleasant.
"We have been working closely with the parish council to sort matters out. We understand they represent the local community and we are keen that no-one is put out by the use of the site."
Mr Henderson denied there was a problem with unsanitary conditions as, he said, there are 24-hour toilets available on the site throughout the year.
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