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Stink over human excrement blights well-run festival

Thousands of travellers arrived at a site in Overton near Morecambe for a national religious festival. Event organiser Pastor Jackie Boyd (far right) during a meeting with council representatives and emergency services to ensure a smoothly-run and incident-free event.  PIC BY ROB LOCK 25-7-2014

Thousands of travellers arrived at a site in Overton near Morecambe for a national religious festival. Event organiser Pastor Jackie Boyd (far right) during a meeting with council representatives and emergency services to ensure a smoothly-run and incident-free event. PIC BY ROB LOCK 25-7-2014

As the dust settled on a week-long festival – which saw thousands of travellers descend on Overton – villagers’ opinions were very much divided.

Many residents said the Light and Life Gypsy Church religious festival was extremely well organised and the people were welcoming and friendly.

Others have reported human excrement on roads and in hedges, and noise disturbances during the night.

Organisers, Overton Parish Council, Lancaster City Council and police worked closely together to ensure the festival, held from July 26 to 31, passed off as peacefully 
as possible. But a resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “This event hasn’t gone without its problems. There has been maniac driving down the back lanes, litter, music and car horns late at night.

“One big issue I have is the human fouling, not pleasant believe me.

“Personally I hope they don’t return. The village has been like a ghost town.

“People have stayed indoors and very few children have been playing out and the park has been empty.

“These massive events should not be allowed to happen, it’s totally unfair for residents to live like this.”

Another resident said: “It has been well organised but it isn’t nice to see the human poo. As fast as they’ve been cleaning it up, they’ve been doing it again. It’s a minority who are spoiling it.”

The festival was held in a private field bordering Lancaster Road, Kevin Grove and Overton St Helen’s School.

Another resident, who lives near the site and went to the festival each day, praised the clean-up operation after the event.

“The field is now pristine,” he said.

“Apart from the vehicle tracks you would not know thousands of people were there for a week.

“We were all apprehensive purely because of the influx of people coming into our village but as soon as we began meeting the travellers and talking to them most people’s fear was assuaged. Most were decent and friendly people.

“We have had problems but these were addressed by the travellers themselves. Boy racers were identified and in effect grounded by their community. We had the problem of human waste which were brought to the attention of the pastors and people were sent to clean up.”

A spokesman for Lancaster police said there were a few “minor incidents” reported while the festival was taking place. These included a disturbance involving travellers on Asda car park on July 25 and a report of a member of the travelling community being abusive to a motorist on Ovangle Road on July 29.

Stephen Hunt, landlord of the Golden Ball at Snatchems, said he’d decided to open his pub to only regulars while the festival was on.

“I would do this for any large influx of people because the pub is too small to deal with huge numbers,” said Mr Hunt.

“I have to think of my regulars.”

Police were called to the Golden Ball on July 30 after a traveller was turned away from the pub and became abusive.

*In next week’s Visitor – meet a family of travellers from Morecambe to find out about their way of life.

 

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