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Firm's action to oust travellers.

Byline: By Jamie Diffley

Scores of travellers have been moved on after setting up camp near to a Tyneside company's pounds 70m flagship headquarters.

More than a dozen travellers arrived in caravans at the Newcastle Great Park development on Wednesday, next to the A1 near Gosforth Park.

The travellers, mostly Irish families, had come in convoy and were planning to set up home.

But the owners of the park, which houses the new headquarters of software company Sage, obtained an enforcement order to move them on.

They had until noon yesterday to move out, but a handful were still at the site in the early afternoon.

High court enforcement officer Arthur Pattison, of Whickham-based bailiff firm Elliott Davies, said they were permitted to use "any necessary force" to make sure they left.

The travellers insisted they were peaceful and were just looking for a place to stay.

But employees at nearby Sage complained about their presence.

One told the Chronicle: "At first, about 15 caravans came and set up here. Two of the men came into reception and caused a bit of a fuss and everybody wants them out.

"There's no mess or anything like some people expect but it's not the sort of image Sage wants to project after moving in here.

"I think some of the big bosses are embarrassed."

But the travellers insist they just want somewhere to stay.

Paul Riley, from Ireland, said: "It's 2004 and I think people should have more of an open mind.

"It's hard for us. I wish people would have a better understanding of the travelling community. We are peaceful.

"I can understand why we've been asked to move on, because it's private property, but it's still difficult for families like ours."

The 30-year-old father said the families would now move on to a different site in the country.

The landowners instructed enforcement officers to serve eviction notices.

Arthur Pattison was at the business park to oversee the travellers' move.

He said: "We gave them a 24-hour deadline, which has now passed. But they will be gone."

All 1,000 of Sage's Newcastle employees have moved into North Park ( the first building on the pounds 800m Newcastle Great Park development.

Construction of the 380,000 sq ft building started in July 2002 and the new centre replaces five buildings in Newcastle where Sage previously based its operation in the city.

The development is set in 26 acres and has a restaurant, shop, cashpoint, delicatessen counter, dry cleaning, photo processing and a coffee shop. By late autumn, there will also be a gym, and by next summer there will be a sports field.

A Sage spokesman said: "There have been travellers nearby but they've caused us no problems whatsoever. A couple of them were around the building and actually came in but they were treated like any other visitor and when they were asked to leave they did so."
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 24, 2004
Words:487
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