Leeds sport club forced to suspend training after travellers move onto site with damage caused

A Leeds sport club has been forced to suspend all training after a spate of vandalism - with travellers on the site.

By Daniel Sheridan
Thursday, 30th June 2022, 11:45 am

Oulton and Woodlesford Sports and Social Club has seen operations disrupted after a group of caravans entered its fields on Tuesday night (June 28).

The travellers - made up of around 10 caravans plus vehicles, are parked up on rugby league and football pitches at the club, having cut a padlock on a gate to gain access to the site.

Despite the lock being broken and all training and games at the club having to either be rearranged or cancelled, the club said West Yorkshire Police has refused to enact a s.61 eviction notice on the travellers to move them on quickly, deeming there not to be “significant damage, disruption or distress” caused.

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Oulton and Woodlesford Sports and Social Club has seen operations disrupted after a group of caravans entered its fields on Tuesday night (June 28).

It’s the fourth time the club and adjacent Rothwell Sports Centre has been impacted in this way in two years.

This has meant that all rugby league training and games have had to be cancelled for safety reasons.

The club has around two dozen teams across the three sports affected.

The club urged local Councillors to seek a s.61 eviction notice to allow the weekend’s fixtures to go ahead, but the application was knocked back by police following a site visit on Wednesday.

Oulton and Woodlesford Sports and Social Club has seen operations disrupted after a group of caravans entered its fields on Tuesday night (June 28).

A spokesperson for the club said: “We understand the nomadic nature of this community but breaking locks to access land is unacceptable.

“This has caused serious disruption at the club and it’s the fourth time this has happened in two years.

“When it happened last year someone was bitten by a loose dog; we have had to cancel training and games for the safety of our members.

“It is highly frustrating the police have so far refused to act and enforce a s.61 notice; breaking a lock, damaging a pitch and causing around 20 teams to be unable to train or play seems pretty significant to us.

Oulton and Woodlesford Sports and Social Club has seen operations disrupted after a group of caravans entered its fields on Tuesday night (June 28).

“We’d like the legal process to go as swiftly as possible to move these people on and are grateful to our local councillors for their support, and we need something to be done to stop this happening again.

“We need the gate to allow emergency vehicles access but the council need to make it more secure.”

The club would also like to thank opposition teams for accepting reversed fixtures, and Leeds Corinthians RUFC for providing its pitches for the men’s Open Age sides to train on ahead of their games this weekend.

West Yorkshire Police and Leeds Council has been contacted for comment.

Oulton and Woodlesford Sports and Social Club has seen operations disrupted after a group of caravans entered its fields on Tuesday night (June 28).