Eviction order for travellers who set up illegal encampments in Wisbech as National Trust agrees to look after Harecroft Road playing fields
PUBLISHED: 14:53 21 June 2018
A group of travellers who set up illegal encampments in Ely and Littleport before moving onto Wisbech are today being served an eviction order.
Police said the convoy moved onto Harecroft Road playing fields on Sunday June 17 arriving on the field “next to the cricket and rugby clubs”.
The land was coincidentally visited at the end of last week by MP Steve Barclay who accused its owners, the National Trust, of being unfair to the previous tenants, Wisbech Acorns Football Club.
Steve Barclay MP said: “I spoke with the National Trust and they have now confirmed that an agreement has been reached with Wisbech Rugby Club to look after these fields.
“As such the grass should be cut shortly and the travellers who are illegally on the land at present are being served with an eviction order today.
“The pavilion which was set fire to will now be demolished and grassed over but I do not as yet have a date for when that work will be undertaken.
“The Trust has also said that it is open to offers from the community for ways to use the vacant pitches and will be looking constructively at what is affordable for any community groups interested.”
It comes after Mr Barlcay said last week: “The treatment of Wisbech Acorns by the National Trust raises questions as to whether they have lost touch with their charitable purpose - in the very town of the National Trust founder Octavia Hill.
“Now the football pitches which until recently were used for youth matches are overgrown, the site has attracted vandals who have set fire to the clubhouse, and the Trust has lost the revenue the club were paying.”
Mr Barclay said Wisbech Acorns FC chairman Rob Gifford rented the playing fields for £500 a quarter and had to maintain the pitch themselves.
“However, after they left the site, he tells me the National Trust still continued to send letters to the club asking for further work to be done by the club volunteers,” said the MP.
He quoted Mr Gifford as saying the National Trust “were merciless to us. They even made us pay after we’d left the site, knowing the financial losses we’d suffered whilst renting the fields.
“They were still contacting me regarding cutting the trees down affecting the highway- but we had left in February 2018”.
Any local groups who would be interested should get in contact with the National Trust estate manager Emily Tydeman via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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