Woolwich councillor calls for action as travellers arrive on Woolwich Common

Woolwich Common councillor David Gardner has called for the Ministry of Defence to take action after travellers arrived on the common 10 days ago.

Since then a number of complaints have been sent to this site as well as posted online about a various issues including flytipping on the common and residents complaining of harassment including visitors to the adjacent hospital. Trees have  been reported as cut down.

Cllr Gardner stated:

“Am afraid that the travellers’ encampment on Woolwich Common has not been tackled effectively by the Ministry’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation, there are now 15 caravans and the HaHa Road gate remains open. They are not following Greenwich’s advice on how to tackle the situation quickly and avoid a huge pile-up of rubbish from “house clearances” etc. I have pleaded with them to secure and staff the gate – then I think they will leave.”

One reader stated:

“One resident, a female was followed and harassed by a group of boy on quad bikes and she and her friend had to run out of the common (usually a safe daytime running spot) for fear of what was being said / implied.

Then another resident who had an expensive pedigree dog was approached by a group of younger boys who started asking questions. Soon after male traveller came over and demanded the the dog overs hand over his dog as “compensation” for talking to the children.

A number of residents on our community association have reported the travellers arrival to the council and the police but haven’t heard anything back.”

The MOD control the common and in 2018 a number of caravans were parked on the common. They ignored Greenwich Councils calls to clean the site. Rubbish built up and eventually a fire begun which covered a sizeable amount of land.

UPDATE: In the past hour the MOD have tweeted:




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    20 thoughts on “Woolwich councillor calls for action as travellers arrive on Woolwich Common

    • I have suggested adding more trees in the area frequented by the travellers. The diversity of the trees on the common needs to be increased.

    • Had the travellers pitched up on the tennis courts I’m sure they would have been quicker to act

    • It’s a disgrace it’s taken this long for a response given the crimes being committed so brazenly. I still don’t understand how intimidation and illegal quad bike riding is met with inaction from the Police. I hope the MOD promptly clean up the mess they’ve allowed to build up, the Common was a lovely space in an otherwise urban jungle.

    • Staggering given the proximity of the MOD Police base to the site.

      • I understand that to an extent everybody had some kind of right to live their life the way they choose….
        However, when the way you choose to live impedes on the rights and safety of others then that should totally VOID there rights.
        How can you just roam into someone else’s property and fuck it up and get away from it.
        Why is it such a process to move an intruder from your own property?
        The law is fucked up and protects the s**t in the world.
        Could a normal person walk into someones house and just tell the owners “I’m moving in?”.

    • Why are travellers even being allowed to roam around like this, creating a big mess everywhere?
      I have seen the mess they make in various areas in the neighborhood, if anyone else would do that they would surely be arrested?

    • Why don’t the MOD just move these people on . Sell the land to the council and build more affordable homes? Then we would not have this problem

    • Hopefully this problem will be solved soon. I’ve been myself arrassed and chased by boys in motor squad. I walked as fast I could but beeing heavily pregnant was not easy. The park is the only good place I could go for a walk but for now I’ll not risk.

    • Live and let live. As a local resident I have no objection to these people. Based on the above there is no evidence of any wrongdoing. It is not a crime to speak to someone abruptly, if that is what has happened. If there is decisive evidence of fly tipping, or unsafe operation of quad bikes, that ought to be dealt with in a sensible, proportionate way. Murky, you should be more circumspect in reporting on this matter, and at the very least give the travellers a right to reply. That is journalism 101 stuff.

      • I guess photos and videos of fly tipping, and numerous accounts of intimation don’t meet your threshold for evidence of wrongdoing. I also wasn’t aware the occupation of private land was legal.

        • I think the common isn’t private land in the same way as your back garden, and the extent to which you or I have a greater right to be on it than our fellow citizens (the travellers) is the moot point that would need to be probed. As for the alleged offences, well luckily we still have courts who decide guilt and innocence. Gather the evidence, prosecute & fine the responsible parties under environmental legislation, if you must.

      • I have no objection to travellers, gypsies or Roma, but I do object to people littering and fly-tipping on Woolwich Common, which has been an invaluable natural retreat for locals over the last few months. And to anyone who regularly uses the common, it’s pretty obvious who’s doing the littering and fly-tipping. I’ll add that I was subjected to intimidation and abusive language when I last took a walk on the Common with my partner a week or so ago. I haven’t been back since. Have you been recently, Ghost?

      • Ghost, unless you have visited the common to see the situation first hand, your blanket defence of ‘these people’ is misguided. Being utterly disgusted by the mess this particular group have left doesn’t mean a person is opposed to Travellers’ rights and culture in principle.

        If you are a local resident, why not join the Friends of Woolwich Common group and come and help with the clean up? There is a lot to do.

    • Looks like they have gone today. Massive amount of rubbish across the field though – really shocking how much damage can be done in such a short amount of time.

    • Fly tipping is unfortunate and should be dealt with according to the law. But can everyone look around? We find ourselves in the greatest global crisis in living memory due to covid. Hate filled language is normalized & indeed encouraged. Live and let live. Btw when are the friends of woolwich common going to spot the biggest environmental threat around their beloved common – its not fly tipping & litter, its the south circular and the other roads packed with traffic pumping out pm10 etc.?

      • Ghost, the FoWC is not an environmental pressure group. I can’t speak for other members but I actively support a couple of such groups. Indeed, traffic pollution is one of the many issues I and they are concerned with.

        Beyond that I didn’t quite understand your answer. Are you coming to help out with the next litter pick or not?

    • No. I don’t support self-appointed “community representatives” who stigmatise other social groups & I regret to say, based on what I have seen, are unrepresentative of our diverse community. The authorities like the group because it gets them off the hook for actually maintaining public spaces. But unless the group can use the woolwich common to articulate a wider social purpose such as promoting tolerance, social cohesion, & environmental campaigning on the real pollution threats, well, I feel we are not really going to achieve much. For instance, why did the group not try to engage with the travellers, ie go and talk to them? If you approach people with hostility, they will be hostile back. Here was a missed opportunity to explore a wider social purpose for the group & give it legs. Regrettably it took a wrong turn and ended up stigmatising a whole social group in a very public way. Amends can be made of course but the group needs to reflect on what it seeks to achieve; i would highly recommend it starts to connect up with more diverse community groups around the common. Taking the first step is always difficult.

      • Btw a lot of people myself included in our community pick up litter and make efforts to keep things looking good, & support the community, & always have done. The woolwich common group doesn’t have sole ownership of that. But these other people don’t make a song & dance about it.

        • Good, it is nice to hear you do that.

          So, the answer to the question I originally asked you was:
          “Thank you for the offer but I already do similar things, elsewhere.”

          But, for some reason, you responded with three patronising, fact-free diatribes against a group you evidently know little about. I am not a spokesperson for the FoWC but I respect what the group has achieved. I also value and respect themurkydepths hugely and do not wish to sully either with a petty argument here.

          Good day to you.

      • Bravo for speaking up! Common belongs to everyone and isolated incidents should be dealt with accordingly to the law. It’s no wonder these groups try to scam and abuse the “good citizens” — facing so much judgementalism and hostility, it’s only natural to be hostile and exploitative themselves. You need to talk to them and not from a high horse of moral superiority, you know nothing about their world and struggles.


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