From John D
Given the burgeoning numbers of unregistered people from mainland Europe, and indigenous poor homeless Brits from Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham etc I have no problem, in principle, with such people living rough on the wooded outskirts of Hebden Bridge (for example in secluded parts of the woods left and right of the path up to Hell Hole rocks / Heptonstall quarry, and up across from the Trades club below the rail tracks) in the summer months.
For them, this can be safer, less regulated, and more fun than running the gauntlet of various terrors in the urban environment. However, the problems associated with this, and the potential for worse are starting to become evident.
On my way up to the old the quarry below Heptonstall today, I investigated a small recent trail into one of the hidden terraces above the path, to come across a 20-30 year old eastern european chap devouring a chicken carcass in his "residence". After another 80 metres there is a patch of woodland burned out from last September, then 20 metres further up, clear evidence of dossing, down on a remote terrace not too obvious from the path. After another 20 m, within the last month, an area of about 100 m squared has burned out, then a few metres further I investigated smoke to find a man in his 20s putting another log on his fire.
I imagine that this is happening across the UK to an increasing degree. My concern is that if we want it as a facility for these folk, that we stop pretending it's not happening and provide sanitary and garbage collection facilities, and monitoring for fire. If we don't, these areas are going to be trashed quickly and become no go areas for the little kids and frail old locals who deserve to enjoy this hard-won amenity resource.
From Howard B
I share you concerns John. I think some of the problem is that we live in a land that does not consider trespassing as a criminal activity. So the police can do no more than jubilantly wash their hands of the matter. Unless of course you approach the trespassers in a manner that could be construed as being threatening, in which case the long arm of the law will be feeling your collar.
So if you insist on justice or the avoidance of possible problems, if they won't leave, the owner of the land has to go to a solicitor and get a court order to remove them.
If they still refuse to go, i.e the court order is breached, it MAY become a criminal matter and the police MAY get involved (particularly of course if the perpetrators aren't wearing seat belts).
John, would you like to contact the land owner to show him where and perhaps he will ask them to leave?
From Tom Standfield
After Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, spent a week on the streets for a TV programme, she wrote, "It was frightening, cold and depressing... I wasn't prepared for the absolute, abject loneliness... The hardest thing to extract from people wasn't money: it was human exchange... People just don't want to see you..."
Good luck to these so-called trespassers! Let's offer them tea and friendship. Who knows, in 30 years they may become pillars of the local community, remember our kindness and treat others in the same way.
From Michelle Foster
A short point of information - The Basement Recovery Project and The Salvation Army are just two organisations in our community who can provide a hot meal and food parcels for those people sleeping rough. In addition, people can also come to the YMCA Basement on Tuesdays and Thursdays to access hot showers and laundry facilities. Contact Number 01422383063.