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Anger as travellers move in at KES sports field

The travellers on the KES sports field this morning
The travellers on the KES sports field this morning

POLICE were called to Manor Road in Stratford last night after a row broke out between residents and travellers who have set up camp on the site of the King Edward VI school playing fields.

The unwanted visitors, who are living in eight caravans, forced a lock on the gate yesterday, Saturday, afternoon and, wielding a fence post, threatened to smash a man's car which he had parked across the entrance to prevent them from re-entering.

Two police cars, one with dogs, attended the scene around 7pm.

Bennett Carr, KES headmaster, who also met with the travellers, told the Herald: "One of the officers and I spoke to the travellers. They said that they thought it was a park, not a school’s grounds as the school buildings are not there.

"They noted that schools usually have high fences to prevent access and seemed genuinely surprised to hear that it was a school sports ground. Our signage, which would have told them, has recently been removed by vandals!

"The police said they do not have the power to remove them. Their only advice was to improve boundary security and remove valuable items in the future.

They have also broken into the pavilion but don't seem to have caused any damage inside.

He added: “Sadly this is the latest in a long line of problems we have had to deal with at our Manor Road Sports Ground. The pavilion and groundsman’s building are often the focus for anti-social behaviour and have been broken into regularly causing thousands of pounds worth of damage as well as losses through theft.

"We routinely have to clear up dog mess and empty bottles off the pitches and have even had to remove syringes earlier this year. I can only hope that the travellers do not cause any more damage.”

Late on Sunday afternoon, Mr Carr issued an update on the situation, he said: "The travellers occupying the site have indicated that they will be moving on Monday. If not, we will be seeking a Court Order. Thank you to the local residents for your vigilance and to all the parents who have offered help clearing up."

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