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A group of jobless migrants have set up a tent village – complete with a makeshift CHURCH and communal kitchen – next to a busy ROUNDABOUT.
The camp is home to around 11 adults and children who have set up a community known locally as the ‘Roundabout people’.
The shantytown consists of a main catering area for meals, a “church” tent and even a central dormitory where the residents sleep under the cover of the trees.
The camp was set up in woods adjacent to the Barnes Meadow Roundabout by the busy A45 in Northampton in 2009 with a handful of refugees living there.
But over the past three years the population appears to have grown to at least 11 permanent residents including nine from Poland, one from Latvia and one from Slovakia
Conservative MP Michael Ellis, whose Northampton North constituency includes the community, is calling on the authorities to reach out to the migrants.
He said: “It’s a tragedy that people feel they have to sleep out in the elements and I would urge them to contact the authorities for assistance.”
Residents living near the tent village expressed shock that the community were forced to live “in the stone-age”
Accounts manager Deborah Davies, 45, who lives a mile from the site, said: “I pass the camp every day on my way to work.
“They first appeared on the roundabout a few years ago but their population has grown.
“It is awful to think that there is a community of people living next to the roundabout.
“It’s like they surviving in the stone-age just a few feet from cars whizzing by them.”
A central tent in the wooded area serves as a communal eating area. A nearby lake is understood to provide the group with fish which is poached and cooked.
Meanwhile a smaller tent is used as a makeshift chapel which is complete with a crucifix hanging from the ceiling and even an altar made from pieces of wood.
Members of the camp have been visited by Northampton Borough Council’s homelessness team but they are not eligible for benefits or social housing because they do not possess any official papers.
The council’s cabinet member for housing, cllr Mary Markham said: “We think they’ve moved to Northampton having been unable to find work in Peterborough and other areas.
“Unfortunately their status is such that they’re not eligible for housing benefit or council housing and, from what they’ve told us, they’re struggling to find employment.
“Our housing officers have offered advice on how to look for work or training and have gone through other options, including offering help to return home.
“We’re doing what we can to ensure that people in this situation understand their rights and know how to access employment and training opportunities.”
In 2010 officers from Peterborough City Council, Cambridgeshire Constabulary and the UK Border Agency slapped 27 migrants with warnings to leave the countryside after a spate of shanty-towns were set up in the East Midlands.