A Traveller family in Wiltshire, who face a hefty fine after a breach of planning regulation, have pleaded for "peace" and say they want to become part of the local community.

Land on New Road, in Bromham, has been subject to a number of planning applications in recent years, most of which have been refused by Wiltshire Council and dismissed by planning inspectors on appeal.

The Ward family, who are from the Traveller community, have defended their actions after a temporary stop notice was placed on the site in April, "following unauthorised works to form a bund taking place," the council said.

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Another notice was issued this weekend after lorries with hard soil arrived on New Road.

The local authority is currently exploring legal options around implementing a fine of up to £20,000 as a result of the breach.

Some Bromham residents said that work to create a new entrance to their land would pave the way for more caravans.

One, who did not wish to be named, said people were "being scared stiff" and felt like they were being "held ransom".

This was echoed by MP Danny Kruger, who posted on Facebook: "The clear expectation is that an illegal encampment is being created and an influx of caravans is now expected."

The council has also said it "recommends the public stay away from the site" following alleged hostility.

However, the Gazette visited the Ward family twice, once unannounced, this week and had a calm and measured conversation on both occasions. 

The Wards claim they have not broken planning regulations and that they have submitted a new planning application.

A bid the family hopes will make the land a home for their immediate family.

They want to become part of the community and send their child, Maryann, to school locally.

Throughout the years, the family said they have received insults such as "leprechaun" and, one occasion, said hair from one of their ponies was cut off and posted through their door.

The Travellers also fear the ramifications of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, and the prospect of becoming homeless in the future.

The new measures could see travellers facing a fine or prison if they set up unauthorised encampments - currently it's a civil offence.

Bridget Ward, 21, said: "We just want to live in peace and become part of the community. 

"People are welcome to come over and speak to us."

Cllr Nick Botterill, cabinet member for development control and strategic planning, said: "There are a number of mobile homes on the land which are subject to an existing enforcement notice that has not been compiled with and we are proceeding with a prosecution.

"Our officers experienced hostility over the weekend while attempting to put up the temporary stop notice, which resulted in a police presence being required.

"We will not tolerate any abuse or threatening behaviour towards any of our staff while simply carrying out their jobs.

"We are now in the process of preparing and serving a new enforcement notice relating to the unauthorised construction operations that have taken place over the weekend.

"The council has also exercised its lawful powers to decline to determine a new planning application submitted over the weekend for the placing of four mobile homes on the land."

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT) recently hit out at a "shocking" lack of places for Traveller families to live in England and said it was "deeply unfair" that more land was not being identified. 

They want the government to reintroduce pitch targets and a statutory duty on local authorities to meet the assessed need for Gypsy and Traveller sites.

The council said they are working on the preparation of a draft Gypsy and Traveller Development plan, which aims to allocate land for travellers in sustainable locations, and there will be more consultation in the coming months.

More information can be found at https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/planning-gypsy-travellers