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Travellers set up illegal camp on Walsall playing fields

By Gurdip Thandi | Walsall | Crime | Published:

Travellers have set up an illegal camp on playing fields in Walsall.

Travellers have set up camp on Bentley West playing fields in Walsall (Image: Heather Ince)

Community protection officers from Walsall Council are dealing with the unauthorised encampment, which involves up to 10 vans and associated vehicles which were driven onto Bentley West Playing fields.

It is thought the group may have broken into the site through gates on Monmouth Road on Tuesday morning.

Notices have been served by the council instructing the travellers they have to leave and a court date arranged for tomorrow .

The authority said that as of August 4 it was dealing with one other illegal camp in the borough, but officers have had their work cut out during the past few weeks after groups set up on land across the region.

Residents living in Bentley believe this current encampment involves a group of travellers who had previously set up on land at Emmanuel Church in Cairn Drive.

Polite

Heather Ince said: “They haven’t upset me – I’ve passed them on the church hill and the children were pleasant and polite. There wasn’t a mess left behind either.

“But I do know of previous times where a caravan was set on fire on the hill at some point last year.

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“I know that the local residents aren’t very happy and want them gone.

“The only thing that concerns me is that the Bentley West park space is for dog walkers, children, and people who need daily exercise and a few of the travellers have parked next to the path which some local people may find intimidating.”

A spokeswoman for the authority said: “Walsall Council has engaged bailiffs who attended on Tuesdaymorning and served section 77 notices requiring the occupants to leave the land.

“As the site was not vacated, a court date was applied for and has been confirmed for Thursday afternoon under s78 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.”

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Other illegal encampments seen in the borough included a group breaking onto the playing fields of New Invention Junior School and destroying an orchard planted by pupils.

They were removed but ended up at Holland Park in Brownhills. Other incursions have been reported at Five Fields off Pool Hayes Lane, locations in Aldridge and in Walsall town centre.

Walsall Liberal Democrat group leader Ian Shires has called for a report to be presented at the next scrutiny committee meeting later this month, to discuss the issue.

He said they need to discuss progress on opening a transit site in Walsall, getting more injunctions to prevent incursions and boosting security at vulnerable sites.

Gurdip Thandi

By Gurdip Thandi
@Gurdo

Local Democracy Reporter covering Walsall.

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