HAVE YOUR SAY: Insp Ed Turner addresses the public meeting into improved security on the lower Demesnes TM pic
HAVE YOUR SAY: Insp Ed Turner addresses the public meeting into improved security on the lower Demesnes TM pic

BOULDERS, soil banks and an additional retractable bollards were among ideas suggested during a meeting to discuss improved security arrangements for the lower Demesnes, in Barnard Castle, during a special meeting held at The Witham on Thursday.

There was standing room only at the event, which saw about 70 residents attend, as well as members of the town council, representatives from Teesdale police and county councillors.

The focus of the meeting, which was called by the town council, was to discuss future security arrangements to guard against further illegal encampments rather than talk about events that had already taken place and there were a variety of ideas put forward.

One Demesnes resident suggested large boulders could be brought in to line the roadway to the Mill Cottages. The boulders, he said, would still allow residents and emergency vehicles access to Mill Cottages but would stop vehicles parking up on the green spaces.

Others felt installing boulders would affect the open aspect of the area.

A show of hands for the idea revealed 18 in favour of the solution, but 21 against it.

Installing a secondary retractable bollard beneath the height restricting gates was put forward by resident Vince Blayford, who pointed out there is enough width to get a car around the existing one.

He added if another was put alongside and deployed for the two-week traveller migration period this would block access.

Keys could be given to emergency services and residents who would need access.

Colin Glasper, from the Barnard Castle Meet committee, proposed a ditch could be dug on one side of the track way. The soil from the ditch could form a bank on the opposite side of the road.

He added: “If you have a ditch, a car can’t get over but when we have events, such as the Meet, we could put platforms over to get across.”

Installing a “sustainable and environmentally friendly landscaping berm that could bring a creative impact was put forward by one Demesnes resident, adding it could be a feature rather than creating a prison-like structure that would limit vehicle access but retain the open features of the Demesnes for all to enjoy.

Issues involving anti-social behaviour on the Demesnes were also brought up during the meeting, chaired by town council clerk, Martin Clark.

Residents and dog walkers said speeding cars, drug taking and underage drinking were happening all year round, not just two weeks of the year.

Teesdale neighbourhood police Insp Ed Turner said nothing could be done if the police aren’t informed. He encouraged everyone to report the issues so the matters can be dealt with.

The town council will, as a short-term measure, be installing a motion sensor camera to monitor the height barrier so there would be evidence if padlocks are cut off again.

Speaking afterwards mayor Cllr Rima Chatterjee said it was a positive meeting and “a good step forward”.

She added: “I always think that any communication is good.

“It was a step forward and I’m sure a lot of people went away feeling there was a lot of hope. The fact that everybody came together to share ideas to find a solution is good.”

She said: “The fact that the county councillors pledged their support is great. The landscaping is the best idea for me as it would mean we would be able to avoid the barrier situation and problems with the keys.

“It is a long-term solution. There are many other problems that take place, longer than two weeks and people who live around the area suffer the most.

“Hopefully we are able to accomplish this soon with the funding.

“Everyone should be able to enjoy the Demesnes and this is just one step forward, but it is a good one.”