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Devizes Cemetery camp told to clear off
10:00am Friday 11th January 2013 in News
Rough sleepers who have been camping illegally next to Devizes Cemetery have been ordered off the land.
A small number of people pitched tents on the boundary of the cemetery, which backs on to land owned by the Society of Merchant Venturers.
The rough sleepers were first spotted by Helen Barnett, of Forty Acres Road, Devizes, who was visiting the grave of her father at the end of November.
She said clothes were hung on trees and she complained to Devizes Town Council, which, with Roundway Parish Council, owns the cemetery.
In her letter, Mrs Barnett said: “This is not appropriate for the location where people come to pay their respects to loved ones, to only feel uncomfortable when visiting due to the intimidation that there are individuals living alongside the cemetery.
“I visit the cemetery often, to pay my respects to my dad, with my two young children and this makes me feel very uncomfortable and vulnerable.
“I think it is disgusting that people are allowed to set up residence alongside what is meant to be a peaceful area of rest.”
The Society of Merchant Venturers obtained a court order on December 21 to remove the camp. Land stewart Ben Knight said it had been the second time the society had gone to court over illegal camping there. He said it would be installing fencing to try to prevent it happening again.
Carole Berry, direct services manager at Devizes Town Council, said on Monday there were five tents on the society’s land, but she had been told by Devizes Police that the occupiers had moved on.
Mrs Berry said: “We have had to apply for court orders [for several years]. It does seem to be the same people returning.
“It’s disturbing, upsetting and distressing for people visiting the cemetery. Our cemetery. It’s a lovely peaceful place and we don’t want unauthorised persons occupying it.”