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Anger after travellers set up on rugby pitch
8:40am Thursday 26th September 2013 in News
RUGBY fans were furious after a group of travellers moved onto the pitch at Greenbridge yesterday.
Five families of travellers from Manchester moved on to the site via Twickenham Close in the early hours after moving from around the corner near the Gala Bingo hall where they camped on Tuesday night.
Twenty-nine-year-old Shell Price was among the travellers who set up camp on the lower pitch.
She said: “We came here because the gate was open and we just drove in. We plan to leave in a few days, we just want somewhere to rest for a few days before we move on.
“We’re originally from Manchester but we’ve been driving around all summer camping in different places. It’s horrible sometimes. We can get some nice places but sometimes it’s horrible.”
Lisa Lee, 21, added: “We just need to feed the kids and get cleaned up before we head off again. We’ve got all the children, what we want is two or three days to sort ourselves out. It’s not bad for us but I feel sorry for the kids. They are young and need a routine.”
Members of Swindon Rugby Club were concerned about the encampment because the pitch is regularly used for training on Sundays by youngsters.
Club chairman Stuart Cock said: “I’m very concerned because we use this pitch for our mini and junior groups and we have around 200 of them coming along on Sunday. I’m concerned that where they have driven across the pitch they may damage it.”
The land is owned by Stratton St Margaret Parish Council, who lease it to the rugby club. Both organisations have advised SRFC members to be extra vigilant while on the club premises and refrain from any contact with the travellers.
Paul Russell, clerk for the Stratton St Margaret Parish Council, said: “The travellers have told us they will be off the site by Saturday morning and we will work in the with the appropriate authorities to make sure that it happens.”
The council and rugby club have been in touch with police, who will continue to monitor the situation.
A spokesman from Wiltshire Police said: “We are in conversation with Stratton St Margaret Parish Council who are the landowners.
“The travellers have indicated they intend to leave the site on Saturday morning and Wiltshire Police will monitor this situation.”
The nearest legal site dedicated for use by travellers is the Chiseldon Firs transit site which is managed by Swindon Council.
The site, located on the A346 between Swindon and Marlborough, can accommodate between 12 and 20 caravans.
For more information about sites where travellers can legally stay can be found at www.swindon.gov.uk/hs/hs-private/hs-private-gypsytraveller/Pages/hs-private-gypsytraveller-chiseldonfirstransitsite.aspx.