A Travellers’ site is to be shut down after being linked to “unacceptable crimes and violence”, including an attack on a council officer.

Bolton Council said this week that it would be applying to the courts for a closure order to ban access to the Crompton Lodge caravan park.

This comes after reports of incidents involving drugs, firearm sales, and serious violent crime, meaning the council believes the site is no longer safe for residents, including families and young children, visiting council staff or other agencies.

Bolton Council say their staff are unable to visit without a police escort.

(Image: NQ)

Greater Manchester Police Bolton District Commander Stephanie Parker said: “The local community have been subject to unacceptable levels of crime and violence linked to this site, which has significantly escalated in recent months.

“The action taken today is to safeguard our communities and seek to reduce repeat demand on our local neighbourhood officers who have spent hundreds of hours in this area responding to serious incidents. 

Police near the site recentlyPolice near the site recently

“Our top priority is to protect members of the public including the Travellers, residents, local authority officers, and our own police officers, and we will always seek to use all relevant powers available to do so.

“We continue to work closely with colleagues at Bolton Council and local charity organisations to ensure residents of the site receive the relevant information and support.”

Bolton Council, which owns and manages the site, which can accommodate up to 14 families,  says that there has been a sharp rise in criminal activity and threatening behaviour linked to the site over the last six months.

This culminated in a serious attack on a council liaison officer.

Police say that an investigation they carried out last month into the illegal abstraction of electricity needed council staff to be escorted onto site to make the area safe for residents.

But vandalism to the Crompton Lodge site office has meant it is no longer possible for council staff to maintain a permanent presence.

Damage to onsite cameras also means ongoing repairs or replacement of the CCTV system is no longer viable.

Toilet blocks on vacant pitches have also been broken into and have been used to store stolen items, drugs and firearms, while stolen vehicles and high-value plant equipment have been found there.

Bolton Council says that all those occupying the site will now be served with letters.

The letters will declare that the council is satisfied that the site is causing nuisance to members of the public, and creating wider disorder for the Bolton area and the Traveller community.

Council officers say Crompton Lodge residents who have a tenancy agreement with the authority will be provided with full support and guidance throughout the closure process.

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A Bolton Council spokesperson said: “As a council, we fully recognise our statutory duty to make provisions for the Traveller community.

“However, we have now reached a point where it is no longer possible to safely maintain and run this site, despite a number of joint interventions over many years.

“Due to repeated hostility, council employees and contractors are unable to visit without a police escort, and this is no longer sustainable.

“We are now seeking a closure order for Crompton Lodge, including for those that are legally tenanted to live there, so we can regain control of the site and make it safe and secure for the local community.”

Bolton Council will make an application to Greater Manchester Magistrates Court for a closure order under Section 80 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act.

If granted, breaching a closure order is a criminal offence carrying a penalty of either imprisonment for a period of up to six months or an unlimited fine, or both.

Alleged offences the council says have been committed at Crompton Lodge Caravan site include:

- Firearms and significant quantities of ammunition seized

-Significant quantities of stolen vehicles and motor parts recovered

-Violent offences against service providers

-Stolen dogs recovered

-Cannabis seized and evidence of large-scale cannabis production

-Stolen high value plant machinery recovered

- Large scale incidents of disorder and violence with injury

- Criminal damage and fly-tipping

- Knife point robberies