Calls for more powers after travellers 'wrecked' Rugby primary school playground - The Rugby Observer
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Calls for more powers after travellers 'wrecked' Rugby primary school playground

Rugby Editorial 21st Oct, 2015 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016

TRAVELLER camps which have appeared near a Rugby primary school have prompted calls for extra powers to move them on.

Scores of caravans have parked near to the entrance of Rugby Free Primary School on two occasions since it opened six weeks ago.

Since then, the school has had to repair damage caused to play equipment in the playground, and hire 24-hour security to prevent further disruption.

It has led to Rugby’s MP raising the issue in Parliament, where he urged new powers to allow local councils to move on unauthorised encampments, and also funding for defensive measures to prevent them.

The school’s chair of governors Tom Legge said the first encampment of around 60 caravans appeared at the end of Central Park Drive, where the school is situated, just three days before it opened in September.

The travellers were soon evicted because they were obstructing the public highway, but weeks later a second smaller convoy arrived which stayed for around ten days.

Mr Legge said: “The travellers decided they wanted to play on our outdoor play area, and essentially wrecked it, damaging play equipment and leaving litter – which was a shame because it was brand new and there for the children to enjoy.

“At the first sign of this, we took on 24-hour security. It’s all been put right now, but at significant cost to the school, and with considerable disruption.”

Mark Pawsey MP asked the Leader of the House, Chris Grayling MP, to consider giving councils extra powers to move on travellers who park near ‘sensitive areas’ such as schools, and to fund defensive measures such as bollards.

Mr Grayling responded by drawing attention to the powers that councils and police already hold, and urged Mr Pawsey to “put pressure on both those organisations locally to make sure that they get on with it”.

Later, Mr Pawsey added: “Many local residents have contacted me to express their great concerns over the repeated incursions on to Central Park drive by members of the travelling community.

“This has been an ongoing issue for a number of years and I have been working hard with local businesses and councillors to find a permanent solution to this ever increasing problem. However, the recent opening of Rugby Free Primary School on Central Park Drive has made the need for urgent action to prevent these incursions even more pressing.

“I am continuing to work with local businesses, stakeholders and local authorities to have defensive measures installed in the area, to prevent future encampments.

“Unauthorised traveller encampments can be very troubling for a local community when they appear and it is important that where they occur, the police and local authorities act swiftly to move them on.”

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