A community disrupted by two days of ‘havoc’ when travellers arrived pulled together to support one another but have said the incidents ‘will never be forgotten’.
Harting residents first became concerned when a group of travellers moved into a field nearby. An estimated 30 caravans pitched up at the site on Sunday but were evicted on Monday.
Tim Waller, who runs Harting Stores, said: “It was pretty awful. We are the only shop for about five miles so I knew I was in for a hard day.
“Groups came in of between one and five and some were throwing things around and just being intimidating.”
Tim recalled one incident when a group of men surrounded an elderly lady and began blowing cigarette smoke in her face.
Fed up, Tim put a message on Facebook to ask for the support in his shop.
“We have a really strong community here.
“I put a little bit on Facebook about getting in to the store to keep an eye out and the community were really supportive. The community was very much all round to be visible.
“The pub in Harting was halfway between the travellers’ site and the shop and people sat outside the pub and rang down to warn us when they were on their way.”
There was also concern about what state the area would be left in when the travellers left.
“We set up a cleaning party and people were donating gloves and things and within an hour there were two dozen people down there – It was just brilliant.
“I think it reflects how tight as a community we are and how much we love our environment.
“I don’t think this will ever be forgotten but it will be a lesson to us.”
Management at Diggers Forest School confirmed the nursery shut down for the two days the travellers were set up.
Chairman of Harting Parish Council Andrew Shaxson described the community’s action as ‘absolutely brilliant’: “That’s the power of Facebook. Within minutes of being told they were going dozens of people armed with bags, began picking up rubbish and the district council picked it up the next day.
“From that point of view, it couldn’t have been better but it does ask questions. There is something very wrong with the system.”
For more information on travellers and the regulations regarding settlements, visit: www.chichester.gov.uk/gypsiesandtravellers