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Council seeking court order after travellers stay on Stratford football pitch

STRATFORD District Council was today (Wednesday) seeking a court order to move on travellers who were illegally camped on a football pitch in Cottage Lane, Stratford.

A council spokesperson said notice had been served on Monday (1st August) afternoon on eight vehicles/caravans, telling them to quit the site by midday Wednesday. But they were still on site this afternoon.

Three of the nine travellers caravans which have moved on to the playing field on Cottage Lane in Shottery. Photo: Mark Williamson. (58360448)
Three of the nine travellers caravans which have moved on to the playing field on Cottage Lane in Shottery. Photo: Mark Williamson. (58360448)

Warwickshire Police said they were also ‘aware’ and ‘engaging’ with the travellers.

The group of eight caravans plus vehicles and tents have been on site since the early hours of Sunday morning and camped around the edge of the field.

A resident living nearby, who asked not to be named, said he and other locals were cross that rubbish, including plastic drinks bottles, had been strewn over Cottage Lane and South Green Drive.

He told the Herald how he was woken on Sunday morning by a “continuous sound of feral dogs barking and other loud noises” coming from the site.

He said: “There’s usually a big farm-style padlocked gate to stop cars going into the field, so I’m not sure how they got their caravans in but I’m dreading the state the football field is going to be left in.

“And I’m wondering who is going to pay for the clear-up.”

He added: “The kids in this neighbourhood are often on the field playing football and with the England women’s team winning the Euros on Sunday, there’ll be even more who’ll want to have a join in.

“It’s shame that now they can’t go out there and play.”

Several unauthorised traveller encampments have sprung up in and around Stratford during the past 18 months.

Recently, the Herald reported how travellers left a trail of destruction at Marston Playing Fields, Lighthorne Heath, after moving on from an unauthorised encampment. Park benches and goal posts were smashed and the site was strewn with rubbish, including used condoms and human excrement.

The parish council called in Rentokil and Biffa waste services to professionally clean up the site.

And Alcester Rugby Club was left with a £5,000 bill for bailiff fees and a major clean-up job, after a week-long battle to remove 42 vans and caravans that took over the Birmingham Road grounds in June last year.

Moves are being made across Warwickshire to ensure there are more legal pitches for travellers – parts of the county, including the Stratford district, have not hit targets for the number of sites they should have available.

As reported by the Herald last week, county-wide discussions on ways to tackle the problem of illegal traveller sites have been taking place with the intention that local authorities will combine resources to create a cohesive plan for traveller pitches.

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