Police to use emergency powers to evict travellers from Rokeby Playing Field after 'serious issues'

The encampment.
The encampment.

Police will use emergency powers to evict from Rokeby Playing Field travellers who broke a lock to gain entry on Friday night and caused 'serious issues' over the weekend.

Police are using 'Section 61' powers to order the group to leave by Tuesday, September 11, after concerns over the impact the encampment is having on residents and the adjoining site where work has just begun on two new schools.

The encampment - directly next to the site where two schools are being built.

The encampment - directly next to the site where two schools are being built.

A Rugby councillor told the Advertiser the group arrived on Friday and gained entry to the field by cutting through a chain and padlock.

He said the travellers are fly-tipping, defecating in the field and nearby bushes, while loud swearing coming from the site has been distressing residents.

"There have been no reports so far of any break-ins on private property, but some elderly residents are feeling sick with worry," he said.

He said he saw a woman driving several men from one end of the site to the other, before dropping off the men - who then defecated on the ground before heading back to the other side of the field.

He said the police had patrols going to the site on Friday, but someone from the police told him there were only three patrol cars for the entire town.

"One thing that struck me over the weekend was the various agencies saying they couldn't do anything because they were short-staffed," he said.

Warwickshire County Council said police invoked the emergency powers due to 'serious issues' over the weekend.

It is understood that BAM Construction, which has just begun work on neighbouring land to build Rugby Free Secondary School and Quest Academy, has employed 24-hour security after travellers stole temporary fencing which they then used to block access from a bridleway to Rokeby Playing Field.

The Cllr said he feels that if the field had been better secured the problem could have been avoided.

The incident comes after Rugby Borough Council was granted a court order which allows police to arrest anyone setting up illegal encampments on borough council land.

The court order does not apply to Rokeby Playing Field - which is owned by Warwickshire County Council.

The Cllr said he believes travellers in the area may be aware of the court order, and are now targeting county council land instead.

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