Shop forced to close early while travellers parked on heath

Londis, Sandridge Road, St Albans

Londis, Sandridge Road, St Albans - Credit: Archant

A shop owner in St Albans felt forced to close his store early on the three days the travellers were parked up next door.

Owner of the Londis on Sandridge Road, Baskaran "Baski" Mahalingam, reported two criminal incidents to Herts police while the travellers were situated on Bernards Heath.

The group drove up at about 8pm on May 31, and the first Londis incident happened at between 10.30am and 11.15am on June 1 when four young boys stole three cans of energy drinks.

Baski reports that so many young people were coming in that he felt it necessary to close at 2pm - seven hours early.

Shortly after he locked up two boys attempted to break down the shop door, triggering an alarm in the process.

Over the next two days Baski closed early at 6.30pm to avoid more trouble and estimates he has lost £3,000 in revenue over the sunny weekend.

He believes the children were travellers: "It is only 20 yards from my shop, and I am the only shop for a while around so there is no other place for them to go and play around."

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The travellers left Bernards Heath by 11.30am on June 4 after police officers enforced a section 61 anti-trespassing order. It means the group cannot return to the green for three months or risk arrest.

Baski said: "I am very happy they [the travellers] have now left."

A Facebook post from Friends of Bernards Heath said: "Travellers have all left Bernards Heath. Lots and lots of rubbish has been left behind and the heath has been used as a toilet.

"Please be careful when walking and using the heath until it has all been cleared up."

Neighbourhood Insp Andy Wiseman thanked the public for their patience: "Because of the huge community impact, we have put a dispersal order in place from 1pm today [on June 4] until 10am on Thursday June 6 across the St Albans district, which includes Harpenden and London Colney, Redbourn and Flamstead."

Anyone with information about these incidents should contact Herts police on 101, quoting 41/49311/19 for the theft or ISR 408 of June 1 for the attempted break-in.