Public meeting in Matlock Bath over Travellers’ antisocial behaviour

The travellers who are occupying one of the car parks at Matlock Bath station
The travellers who are occupying one of the car parks at Matlock Bath station

Matlock Bath residents and business owners have called a public meeting to discuss mounting concerns about the behaviour of Travellers who recently arrived in the village.

Derbyshire Dales District Council ordered a family of Travellers to move from Ashbourne to a temporary site near Matlock Bath station last month.

However, residents say that 11 caravans have now been parked there, and the new arrivals have engaged in persistent antisocial behaviour.

Café owner Heather Kemp says one person from the camp threatened to smash the windows of her business after she explained that the toilet facilities were for customers only.

She said: “The original family were very quiet but now it’s different. We knew this would happen and we told the council but I don’t think anyone took any notice.

“I’m having to keep the door locked. They have been causing trouble all over the place. Everyone is on edge, afraid and fed up.”

Heather says she is not the only business owner to have been intimidated.

Other unconfirmed complaints include noise at unsociable hours, use of outdoor public spaces as a toilet, suspected drug use, vandalism, and a man seen brandishing a chainsaw in the street.

Heather said: “It’s the school holidays next week and this is putting off tourists. We’ve had coaches come in and turn around again to leave straight away. It’s harming people’s businesses.”

The public meeting is being held at the Restoration Café at 6pm on Tuesday, February 12, and councillors have been invited along with the police.

A spokesman for the district council said: “We are aware of reports of anti-social behaviour and that these have been correctly reported to the police. We have offered to provide CCTV footage that might assist their enquiries.

“As far as we are concerned, the additional Travellers are not covered by a homelessness claim and we have activated the process to evict them – but not those to whom we owe a homelessness duty. We don’t yet have court dates, but are aiming for this week.”

They added: “We received an invitation today to attend tomorrow’s meeting called by local residents.

“Unfortunately this clashes with our long-organised Southern Area Residents’ Forum at Hulland Ward, meaning our most senior officers, including the chief executive and our head of regulatory services, cannot attend.”

Derbyshire Constabulary has yet to confirm whether any representatives will be in attendance.