Travellers leave rugby club after eviction notice served

Travellers on Shaw Cross playing fields on Tuesday. (D522B338)
Travellers on Shaw Cross playing fields on Tuesday. (D522B338)
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Rugby fields that were invaded by travellers just weeks after they had left were set to be secured yesterday.

Caravans pitched up on the Shaw Cross Sharks playing fields on Leeds Road on Sunday night, leaving the club devastated.

Back in July the same group of travellers disrupted training and matches when they spent the best part of a week on the fields.

Then, Kirklees Council, which owns the land, applied to Huddersfield County Court for a possession order so they could evict the travellers.

But they moved on from the fields on the day of the hearing, July 19, leaving behind rubbish and mess for the club and council to clear.

It came just after the club had spent £3,000 upgrading playing surfaces. The same group were on playing fields at Sands Lane last week.

The council used the same court order – which was valid for three months – to serve an eviction notice on the group on Wednesday.

Benny Richardson, secretary of the open-age club, said: “Within half an hour they started leaving, and were all gone by the evening.

“This time round the fields were not left in too bad a state, so training was able to take place on Wednesday evening.”

A spokesperson for Kirklees Council said work would begin yesterday afternoon on securing the land. Quarry stones were set to be placed on the boundary with Leeds Road to restrict access.

Mr Richardson added: “We were bitterly disappointed that the travellers were back.

“We were told in July that the council were looking into installing barriers to prevent them getting on the pitches but that was not been done.

“Once the council has done what say they will do we will be over the moon.

“Now we can go back to doing what we do best, training kids and playing rugby.”

The travellers were on one of the pitches, so the open-age team were able to train on Monday night, but junior training on Tuesday,was had to take place in Bywell.

The club is relieved the travellers have left in time for six junior matches this weekend, and a crucial National Conference League tie against Normanton Knights next Saturday.

Mr Richardson said: “As a club we are determined not to let this affect us. Not just for the open-age team, but for the 250 local kids who use our facilities.”