Harrogate school's frustration' over travellers’ illegal camp on its sports fields
Staff at a top Harrogate school have spoken of their frustration after finding they are limited to act on removing travellers who have set up an illegal camp on their sports fields.
The group of travellers with cars and caravans first drove onto the rugby pitches behind the school’s Mallinson boarding house on Yew Tree Lane on Tuesday night.
They reportedly told school staff they were on their way to a wedding in Ireland after attending the annual Appleby Horse Fair. However, the travellers said if the school paid them a substantial amount of money (£5,000), they were prepared to leave immediately without causing any damage.
But if no money was forthcoming, they said they would increase the length of their stay and implied they would invite other members of the travelling community to join them.
This week, Ashville College is staging a series of summer sports activities for boys and girls, but these have now had to be brought indoors as the College is concerned for the safety of the children.
Despite the camp’s presence being a safeguarding issue, the College is worried possibly the only route it can now take to remove the travellers is to apply for a court order, which could take up to ten days, and interrupt the start of term.
A spokesman for the College said: “Despite the travellers illegally camping on our grounds, which is private property, and their presence being a child safeguarding issue, the police state they are powerless to take action.
“This has already impacted on our summer sports camps and there’s a possibility the start of the new term may have to be delayed.
“We are now having to engage the services of a solicitor to help us apply for a court order, and in the meantime we are powerless to do anything, which is incredibly frustrating and worrying.”
For more information about Ashville College, please visit www.ashville.co.uk or call 01423 566358.