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Villagers clash with Gypsies over greenbelt land

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Police were called after villagers clashed with Gypsies after a protest over building turned ugly

Gypsies clashed with residents in scenes of “appalling” violence after they turned up to build on land without permission in a village.

Residents protested at midday on Saturday after the Romany Gypsies had started work with diggers on greenbelt land in Melling, Merseyside.

A 55-year-old man was allegedly attacked by a gang armed with knives, sticks and an axe.

He suffered minor head injuries and two men were arrested but later released.

Merseyside Police are also investigating claims some of the travellers were armed with knives.

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Residents tried to block the road to stop the Gypsies getting through

Villagers also claimed a group of men in a white Renault van used wooden sticks to damage a grey Ford Transit van at the site opposite Spurriers Lane.

Labour MP for Sefton Bill Esterson condemned the “appalling scenes of criminality and violence”.

He added: “No one should have to put up with what residents are going through and I hope the injured man is going to be OK.

“I’ll also raise this with ministers in Parliament. This kind of behaviour must be stopped and those responsible brought to book.”

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Work began at the site just after 18:00 GMT on Friday

The Romany Gypsies’ planning application to build a permanent camp was refused last month as it posed a risk to the public water supply.

However the Local Democracy Reporting Service said the travellers started building work on Friday at 18:00 GMT when diggers began levelling the land.

Several large lorries full of hardcore stone was also said to have arrived with villagers then staging a protest which turned ugly.

A Merseyside Police spokesman said: “Two men were arrested and later released with no further action taken and no criminal complaint made.”

The village is close to Aintree’s Grand National race course.

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