Court order forces travellers off Burnley recreation group

Travellers who have set up camp on Hargher Clough Recreation Ground.
Travellers who have set up camp on Hargher Clough Recreation Ground.

A LARGE group of travellers have left a recreation ground after Burnley Borough Council obtained a court order to move them on.

The Burnley Express reported on Friday that around 30 caravans and vehicles had set up camp on the Hargher Clough recreation ground, outside Stoops and Hargher Clough Community Centre in Venice Street.

The travellers left the site on Sunday leaving behind several black bin bags of rubbish.

Angry residents accused Burnley Council of leaving the site open following a funfair but council bosses insisted a padlocked gate had been illegally cut open.

Andrew Leah, Property Services manager for Burnley Council, said: “The site in question is Burnley Council owned, and therefore we obtained a possession order from court to allow us to take legal action to remove the travellers. The gate in question was securely locked by our parks team after the fair, and it would appear that this has been cut off at some point after this.”

The council has also acted to ensure the travellers do not set up camp illegally elsewhere in the town. Mr Mick Cartledge, director of community services, said: “Past experience tells us that unfortunately travellers tend to move off a site over a weekend and simply set up on another piece of land elsewhere in the borough.

“We are, therefore, taking action to try and prevent this from happening. We’ve taken a number of short-term measures to secure a number of council owned sites. This means that both the Riverside and nine-hole car parks at Towneley won’t be available to the public for a short time. We realise this will cause some inconvenience but we feel it’s important to try and keep these sites secure to avoid longer-term disruption if travellers were allowed to set up home on them.

“The sad fact is that it’s very difficult to make sites absolutely secure, particularly when people are willing to use angle grinders and other equipment to force entry, but the council is doing all it can to secure its sites to prevent travellers getting onto them.

“We took this approach at Hargher Clough where we did all we could to keep the recreation ground secure. I can assure residents that fencing was replaced after the recent fairground, but subsequent to this, a section of railing was stolen and the council then put a large boulder in the gap until the railings were replaced, at which point the boulder was removed. The site was secure but unfortunately a padlock on the gates to the car park was cut off.”