AN EXASPERATED councillor said the authority was playing a “game of cat and mouse” with travellers as a group have now set up camp on a field at Eccleshill.

They have parked 20 to 30 caravans on a field off Harrogate Road next to the Eccleshill Community Hospital near Ravenscliffe.

Concerned members of the public contacted the T&A to say the caravans arrived on the field on Thursday.

The area is located at the former Eccleshill Upper School site and is now used as football pitches.

A spokesperson for Bradford Council said: “As with every case of traveller encampments, Bradford Council make the usual checks on their welfare and the ownership of the land. If they are on council land without permission we will ask the courts for a Possession Order and restore the area to its original condition soon after they have left the site.”

Councillor Brendan Stubbs (Lib Dem, Eccleshill) claimed that a lock was broken to gain access to the site.

He said: “I have just finished speaking with the Parks Department and they’ve submitted a load of documents to get an eviction order. But it will take at least a week.

“Once the eviction order takes effect, they will have 48 hours to leave the site. Until then, we’re stuck waiting for the process. In the meantime, the council will go and clear away as much as they can at the site.

“It’s frustrating because the council had just cleared away some fly-tipping at the site about a week ago.”

Cllr Stubbs said the council does what it can to secure sites and will deal with travellers when they turn up.

He and fellow ward councillor, Cllr Geoff Reid (Lib Dem, Eccleshill) said that travellers have been at the Eccleshill site before, most recently in 2018. They had set up camp in Peel Park but then moved onto playing fields off Harrogate Road.

Cllr Reid said: “We have been here before. There’s been an influx of travellers so we’ve stressed the importance of securing the land.

“Back in 2018, there was an ineffective lock on the gate, and on that occasion the situation caused some distress for residents.

“But the council acted as fast as it could under the legal constraints they had to abide by.”

Cllr Stubbs said over a four-month period that summer a group of travellers made its way across the district stopping in Ilkley and Baildon before coming to Peel Park, the Eccleshill site off Harrogate Road and moving on to the St George’s Playing Fields off Canal Road before stopping over Calderdale way.

“There were six council sites that summer and it cost around £80,000 in taxpayer’s money for court orders and clean up.”

Cllr Stubbs said that the moving of sites is sometimes a “game of cat and mouse” as he said the council will try to keep travellers from moving to other nearby fields.

He added: “It’s more frustrating because we are one of the councils that has set aside land where they can go.

“The Government requires local authorities to set aside land for travellers. In Bradford, there are sites at Baildon and East Bowling that have permanent residents on them. But not all travellers come to these sites.”