Council pledges better security at Woodhall Playing Fields as travellers return

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Woodhall playing fields
Woodhall Playing Fields. Photo: Google

By John Baron

Council officials have promised to install better security after travellers returned for the third time to Woodhall Playing Fields.

Some local residents and councillors have expressed concern at travellers repeatedly gaining access to the playing fields, which are used by local sports teams. The latest encampment comes despite the council recently introducing boulders to block one entrance and docks and chains at another.

A spokesperson for Leeds City Council told WLD: “It is unfortunate that travellers have returned to Woodhall Playing Fields.

“The gypsy and traveller team have visited the site, and as we have an existing order that was secured on the 23 June 2022, we believe that we will be able to evict the group soon. We are working with legal colleagues on this option, and we should be able to provide a further update later.

“Rest assured that the council is doing all that we can to avoid situations like this. To help prevent access to the fields, boulders have already been installed. However, there is a gate that is required for horticultural maintenance equipment which – despite having a double chain and padlock – has unfortunately been breached. 

“A new gate was recently ordered and is expected to be delivered in around six weeks. This should help prevent future unauthorised access to this site.”

Councillor Andrew Carter (Cons, Calverley & Farsley) has written to council officers to express his frustrations. He said: “The travellers have returned for the third time in quick succession to Woodhall Playing Fields. 

“The council have not been strong enough, my constituents are infuriated. Please don’t try and minimise the cost of cleaning up, this will be the third time for this as well.

“Let me make it quite clear, I don’t hold Parks and Countryside officers responsible, they have been doing their level best. They have had to organise the clean-up, they have had to try and get security measures put in place. As ever this comes from the top, and the growing disregard for the interests of residents and the costs that ultimately fall on them.  It is simply not good enough.”

WLD has reported on previous encampments here.

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