Cricket club forced to cancel games after travellers move on to site

Travellers on the Muff Field Cricket pitch.

Travellers on the Muff Field Cricket pitch.

First published in News

A COMMUNITY cricket club is the latest place to be hit by travellers moving in and officials fear more will arrive when they face eviction from a neighbouring site.

Around six caravans have appeared on the Muff Field Cricket Club site after padlocked gates were broken open late on Monday afternoon.

The club is now unable to play fixtures and because the caravans are parked directly on the cricket field, there are fears the pitch will be left in an unplayable state when the site is eventually cleared.

But in the immediate term there are concerns more travellers may move to the site when an eviction notice for travellers at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre, nearby, becomes active on Thursday morning.

The land is owned by Muff Field Wesleyan Reform Church and club officials say Bradford Council and the police have been reluctant to become involved.

But a Council spokesman said travellers on private land was a matter for the landowners.

Club chairman Steven Broadbent said he had been in touch with church officials over the incident and they wer e still waiting to hear back from their solicitor.

"The police have said they cannot do anything. A PCSO went to speak to them and they said they would be off on Tuesday," he said.

But the caravans were still on the land yesterday.

Mr Broadbent said he had spoken to travellers at the site and they had denied that the gates were locked, then asked for money in return for moving from the site.

He was now having to try to re-arrange fixtures at alternative grounds, he said.

West Yorkshire Police confirmed they had been contacted about the travellers' presence and that locks to the gates appeared to have been cut with bolt croppers.

Inquiries into the incident were continuing, said a force spokesman, and they were liaising with the travellers.

The Council has started legal steps to move travellers camped at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre, where staff have told the cricket club an eviction notice will become active today.

Travellers also moved onto playing fields at Cottingley over the last few days, with the Council also starting legal proceedings to have them moved.

The current activity with illegal encampments is thought to be linked to the Appleby Fair, when travellers returning from the event stop off in Bradford during the journey.

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