Travellers at Southend Rugby Club

GROUPS of travellers have pitched up “causing havoc” at various football and rugby clubs around Southend.

Around 30 caravans have made home at Trinity Football Club, at Eastern Avenue, for the last few weeks with around 10 other caravans having plotted up at Southend Rugy Club, at Warners Bridge Park, Sumpters Way, in Southend, yesterday afternoon.

Children appeared to be enjoying themselves running around the pitches as the families settled in to their new surroundings, causing concern for members of the sporting clubs who are planning to start training again following the latest Government guidance.

A member of staff at Trinity Football Club, who wished to remain anonymous, said the travellers are “ruining the children’s chances of playing”.

The club employee, said: “They’ve been there for a number of weeks.

“Now the guidelines have changed we’ve got children who can train again, but they’re on the fields adjacent to the pitches.

“From a welfare perspective, it’s too dangerous to allow the children down there.

“We get them every year. They’ve been here for a number of weeks. Our teams are ready to train again, it’s really unfortunate.”

The group at Southend Rugby Club were seen by residents of the Manners Way area heading to the grounds around 3pm yesterday.

Councillor Ron Woodley, said: “The legal team has been involved and will seek to get them removed through the courts with an injunction.

“I share their frustrations, but we have to bear in mind the coronavirus outbreak.

“We have to make sure none of them have got the virus and follow the Government guidance.

“They have to be removed safely, securely, and properly.

“If we were to exclude travellers completely from Southend, we would need a permanent place for them to go.

“There isn’t one at the moment and I’m not sure where one can go.”

Councillor Mark Flewitt, added: “It’s about time we have a borough wide protection from travellers.

“If it’s in the form of a PSPO, then that’s fine, but why can’t we have a borough wide injunction.

“Travellers cost councillors and the council time and money every time.

“Residents don’t want travellers on land.”

An anonymous resident, from Southend, added: “I don’t know if they are the same group that were moved on from Basildon and Canvey but it’s the last thing we need.

“Local families feel intimidated by them as do our children. I know they are just trying to go about their daily lives but they can’t just start taking over green spaces and football clubs.”

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