From the West Briton

AN INVESTIGATION is being demanded into claims a Cornwall Council officer encouraged a Traveller to move onto council-owned land.

St Agnes Parish Council is writing to chief executive Kevin Lavery over the allegation against Gypsy liaison officer, Phil Eaton, that he also urged the man to occupy private land next to a flagship business park.

The Traveller arrived on land behind Wheal Kitty business park last week, where David Knowles, a convicted drug dealer has also been living. Knowles was sentenced to two years in jail in July 2010 for the possession of amphetamine and intent to supply while at Wheal Kitty. He recently returned to the illegal camp.

Businesses there have complained about loud music and feeling intimidated by the travellers.

Parish councillor Dawn Brown said the new arrival dumped a dilapidated bus metres from offices.

Within hours of arrival he was seen trying to gain access to Cornwall Council-owned land vacated by Denis Watkins, who lived in a caravan near the park for several years. Mr Watkins was moved to sheltered accommodation after serving a nine-month prison sentence for shooting a teenager in the leg with a .22 air rifle last year.

“We’ve now got two people illegally camped at Wheal Kitty. The Traveller has been abusive and threatened people,” said Mrs Brown.

She further claimed Mr Eaton had invited the Traveller to enter the site.

“What concerns me is that a business owner at Wheal Kitty was told by the Traveller that he had been told by the Gypsy liaison officer to park by the buildings and that he would be transferred to the Cornwall Council-owned field.

“The officer was then overheard telling the Traveller to move onto the site.”

Cornwall Council refuted the claim saying the land was not offered for use by the Gypsy liaison officer.

But on Monday night, Mrs Brown told parish council members she wanted a fuller explanation on how the Traveller came to Wheal Kitty and the officer’s handling of the case, repeating the claims.

Members agreed to call on Mr Lavery to investigate the claim.

Police were called to the scene on Thursday when contractor Cormac arrived to install large granite boulders in the entrance to the council-owned field. Cornwall Council has also imposed an injunction on the field vacated by Watkins to prevent anyone from entering.

The council can do nothing about the private land, owned by and registered to a woman in Australia.

A businesswoman, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, said she no longer invited clients to the park or visited the office alone at weekends. She said: “We have seen lots of cars and people arriving at night and weekends. They play rave music and there is human excrement everywhere.”

She added: “We have been warned (by Cornwall Council) not to approach the Traveller without a police presence. When Denis was here we felt safe.”