Travellers blamed for trashing Tooting Common as £3,000 clean-up operation gets underway


The Gypsy Council warned against jumping to conclusions.


By Bruce Archer, James Cozens, Jack Crone and Jamie Micklethwaite

A desperate clean-up operation is underway this week, after travellers were accused of trashing Tooting Common.

Wandsworth Council, unable to cope with the estimated ten-tonne-tip, has contracted a dozen-strong team to clear the mess in a £3,000 operation expected to take four days.

Last Thursday police removed a fleet of 19 caravans from the common after occupying the site illegally for two days.

A council spokesman said: “We’re not saying it was 100% caused by the travellers, but they were definitely involved. There were huge piles of material and rubbish left right next door to their vehicles.”

Joseph Jones, Gypsy Council Chairperson, warned against jumping to conclusions.

He said: “Everyone always blames travellers and gypsies for dumping rubbish but fly-tipping is usually done by other people. There is material at Tooting Common that doesn’t belong in a caravan.

“Discrimination against gypsies is the only legal discrimination left in the country, it’s a societal problem.”

However, the council spokesman refuted his claims: “We can categorically state that no fly tipping occurred on Tooting Common before the travellers arrived.”

Alfred Butler, 68, a member of the clean-up team said that the waste included everything from household appliances to kids’ toys.

“The litter picking team normally deal with this kind of thing but because it was such a big job we’re here with the vans and trailers – they started doing it by hand but it was just too much.”

Tooting resident, Anthony Alexander, 24, who often walks his dog in the park, blames the travellers for the mess.

“They are a public nuisance and they have no respect for the local community.

“The singed grass and general litter is an eyesore.”

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