LOCAL councillors are urging Bradford Council to take steps to prevent travellers setting up camp in Ilkley.

Travellers arrived in West Holmes field over the bank holiday weekend causing concern amongst local residents.

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth (Ind, Ilkley) said: “The numbers of resident contacts I received over the 48 hrs of the Easter holidays was quite exceptional.

“These were not only from the properties directly abutting West Holmes field but also from a wider area of town. Concerns about the wild behaviour of racing chariots and horses along footpaths to the general total disregard for property and the annexing of a beautiful spot of our town. I visited the site on Saturday morning and felt concerns regarding the non compliance, it seemed to me, of Covid regulations. The field by this time had not only the Traditional Romany type caravans but also modern vans and lots of little tents erected over the field. There had been ‘some attempt’ to secure the site by Bradford Council after last year but this proved woefully unsuccessful. The legal notice of removal was initiated but the time lag (known full well by the travellers ) gives adequate space for a free holiday break in our wonderful town, abusing our facilities.

“And sure enough the site was left on Tuesday for others to clear. Damage was perpetrated on the football field and general appalling mess plus the broken vandalised lock on the ‘gate’. I have expressed my view strongly to Bradford Parks. A solution to make this area secure must be found. Regrettably I do not think Public Rights Protection Order over-rides the rights of gypsies and travellers.”

Councillor Kyle Green (Con, Ilkley) said: “It is hugely frustrating that Bradford Council have failed to take heed of my repeated requests to properly secure the fields where trouble has taken place. It is clear that the most recent incursion has not only been one that has seen tents and other structures erected on the fields but has seen the sites themselves severely damaged by a range of vehicles. These fields are community spaces and it is not acceptable to see sports pitches ruined or our precious green spaces damaged so I once again urge the council to put proper barriers in place to stop this occurring again especially when we have groups such as FOIRP who do such an amazing job at improving and maintaining these sites.”

A spokesperson for Bradford Council said: “The Council has asked the court for a Possession Order for the site, as with every case of Traveller encampments without permission on Council land. When the travellers have moved on from West Holmes field, we will clean up the site and restore it to its original condition as soon as possible.”