Ross-on-Wye Sports Club forced to pay out to evict their unwanted visitors

By Ross Gazette reporter   |   Reporter   |
Wednesday 20th April 2016 7:28 am
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Travellers at Wilton Sports Club ()

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MEMBERS of Ross Sports Club, faced with the expense of engaging a firm of private bailiffs to remove the travellers who moved onto their land at Wilton, are struggling to come to terms with the situation.

Despite padlocking the gates at the entrance to the Sports Centre as usual, on Wednesday evening, April 6th, the travellers moved onto the land on Thursday, April 7th. Members of the Sports Club, which runs the Sports Centre and the football and cricket pitches for the community, alerted the Police and Herefordshire Council.

The Directors of the Sports Club have a 30 year lease for the land from Herefordshire Council so, in effect the Club is the land owner. Despite the Council telling them that the travellers were ‘amenable’ and had agreed to leave on Friday, April 8th they were still in position on Tuesday, April 19th as the Gazette went to press.

The Directors were shocked to discover that their next step is to employ bailiffs themselves. A spokesperson told the Ross Gazette: “This is not just an inconvenience, it is costing us money, we feel powerless and don’t have funds for bailiffs.”

He continued: “We are perplexed by this situation. We did not let them onto our land and we are left with the cost of removing them and cleaning up after them. What little money we have will not cover these costs and we would rather invest in improving our facilities for the public.”

The Directors have engaged a private company from Birmingham who will be serving the travellers notice to leave at 3pm, today, Wednesday, April 20th. This will cost £450. If they are still there on Thursday, April 21st at 8am the bailiffs will start to move them on. This will cost £85 per man per hour, for as long as it take. The spokesman added: “We feel really let down by the police and Herefordshire Council, they have given us no support.”

A spokesperson for Herefordshire Council said: “Herefordshire Council was made aware that members of the travelling community had arrived at the cricket pitch near to Ross Sports Centre on Thursday, April 7th. Officers attended the site to carry out a welfare check and serve a 24 hour ‘direction to leave’ notice, on behalf of the landlord. Our officers continue to be in contact with the Directors of Ross Sports Centre, and have advised them, as they have responsibility for the land by way of lease, to proceed under their common law powers to remove them.”

Local Councillor Hannah Lerego, who recently became the Sports Club’s representative on the Town Council, told the Ross Gazette that she was very disappointed to see the travellers back in Ross.

She said: “I understand some people choose a different way of life but breaking the law and causing distress is not acceptable.”

She told the Gazette that she is pleased to see the number of people who have come forward to offer to help the Sports Club with the clean up after the travellers have gone.

So far the presence of the travellers has not stopped play or training sessions. However the Cricket Club cannot use the Tennis Meadow pitch for either junior training or junior matches until the travellers have gone, and a health and safety risk assessment of the area has been carried out.

This may impact on the start of the season which is due to begin this week.

West Mercia Police has issued some advice for landowners to help them protect their sites from unauthorised encampments. They say: “It is the responsibility of the landowner and an unlawful incursion can be a substantial nuisance, interfering with its normal usage but it can also be costly.” Visit to see this advice in full.


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