Human barricade stops traveller invasion

Martin Webster stands up to travellers outside West End Park
Martin Webster stands up to travellers outside West End Park

Cleckheaton residents abandoned their bank holiday barbecues and formed a human barricade to stop travellers invading their park.

A group of travellers broke into West End Park in Cleckheaton on Monday teatime, but were met with brave resistance from locals who formed a line to stop any more caravans getting in to the park.

Travellers have left a mess on fields off Miry Lane, Hightown

Travellers have left a mess on fields off Miry Lane, Hightown

The incident started when one caravan arrived, demolishing a bin on its way, and alerting the neighbours.

Head of the Friends of West End Park group Martin Webster said: “It was just a spur of the moment thing, we all heard that caravans were trying to get into the park, and we immediately went down to protect the entrance.

“There were only six of us standing in front of the main gate to start with, but passing motorists then joined in too.

“Instead of 300 Spartans we had about 30, but it was enough!”

The police were then called out and moved the travellers, including the caravan that entered the park, on.

“We’re very pleased that we managed to protect our park,” added Martin. “What struck me was how many people we had not met before joined us to help. This is a friendly park and we want to keep it that way.

“This incident brought many local people away from bank holiday barbecues to defend their park which was obviously very satisfying.”

Martin then arranged for a skip to be placed in the entrance of the park to avoid another attempted break-in, but said it was just a stop-gap solution.

He said: “We understand the council’s lawn mowers have to get through the gate, and they can’t at the moment – so we will have to look into ways that we can make it more secure without having to place a skip in the entrance.”

Martin even got a letter from Coun Kath Pinnock commending the bravery and spirit shown.

She said: “This is a tremendous display of positive community action to protect all the work the Friends group have together done to improve West End Park.

“There’s a lesson there for us all.”

Another group of travellers have left a trail of mess on a field in Miry Lane, Hightown.

Brian Bentley, who lives nearby, said the travellers had been there for about two weeks before leaving on Tuesday.

“The mess they’ve left behind this time is the worst I have ever seen. There are wagon loads of hardcore that they have just fly-tipped,” he said.

“The rubbish is unbelievable and they have been using the bushes as toilets. They have been here about five times in the last few years. It really riles me. If we tip rubbish we get fined, but travellers just get away with it. They should be prosecuted.”