Charity race in danger as travellers refuse to leave Hornchurch Country Park

Travellers on Ingrebourne Hill. Picture: Andrew Berwick

Travellers on Ingrebourne Hill. Picture: Andrew Berwick - Credit: Archant

Travellers have settled on parkland and are ignoring orders to leave – threatening an RAF charity race that passes through the site.

Caravans descended on Hornchurch Country Park and the adjoining Ingrebourne Hill last week.

Havering Council officers issued a court order for them to leave the park, which was ignored, and are now taking further court action as well as patrolling 24 hours a day.

The Forestry Commission, which owns Ingrebourne Hill, has also begun legal action to remove them.

Danny Coyle organises the Spitfire Scramble, London’s only 24-hour off-road race, which takes place in August and sees runners camping at the park.

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He is worried the race could be in danger.

He said: “Hopefully they will move on long before then, in which case I will probably need a small army of volunteers to help clear the rubbish.

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“I have 500 runners this year, up from 220, and their safety is paramount to me. They camp on site and run through the night and they must feel assured they are safe.”

This year the race will support the RAF Benevolent Fund.

A statement on the commission’s website states: “We are aware of reports of vehicles driving illegally on site and ask visitors to proceed with caution and call the police if appropriate so that any necessary action can be taken by the police.”

Cllr Osman Dervish, cabinet member for regulatory services, said: “We were made aware of travellers settling and served a court order requiring that they leave. They’ve overstayed this notice and we’re now taking further action through the courts to ensure that they leave as soon as possible.

“In the meantime, we’re carrying out patrols 24 hours a day to monitor the situation and keep our park safe. ”

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