Travellers encampment sparks controversy in Holbeck

The arrival of a group of Irish Travellers in Holbeck yesterday has provoked frustration amongst local residents – but the Travellers themselves insist that they are only staying briefly, and won’t create any problems.

The group started arriving on Holbeck Moor Road in the early afternoon on Tuesday 16th August. Residents immediately informed West Yorkshire Police – but allege that the police didn’t act in time to stop the encampment becoming established, and even escorted some of the Travellers onto the site.

The encampment this morning: a nuisance, or not?
The encampment this morning: a nuisance, or not?

The encampment has brought back bitter memories of a temporary encampment on the very same site in March earlier this year – as reported in South Leeds Life – which caused considerable damage to the local environment (including flowerbeds planted by Holbeck in Bloom), fires, littering, and allegations of anti-social behaviour.

Dennis Kitchen, chairperson of Holbeck Neighbourhood Forum told South Leeds Life:

“We’re trying to improve Holbeck, but keep getting knocked back because of anti-social behviour in particular. This encampment should be treated as such by the police. We’re sure it’s the same group who were here earlier in the year, who showed no respect and created such a mess. We don’t have a problem with people travelling here to trade, as they are doing, but why should we accept anti-social behaviour? Millions have been spent on those new houses just across the road, and now this. It’s stupid.”

As of 9am this morning (Wednesday 17th August), there were about 20 caravans, campervans, and mobile homes. The travellers were happy to talk (although declined to give any formal quotes), and insisted that they weren’t creating trouble, and planned to move on by the end of the week. There was at that time very little litter or mess around the site – although there are suggestions that some has now started to accumulate.

South Leeds Life understand that a court case is in process, to move the encampment on. If the group is found to be the same group from March (and there is no proof yet that they are), they will be subject to a 6 month exclusion order put in place at that time. But either way, it is expected that any enforcement action will take at least 2-3 days. Watch this space for further updates in the coming days, including comment from the formal bodies involved.

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