Council applies for court order to remove travellers from land in Mirfield

Kirklees Council has applied to the courts for an order to remove travellers from land in Mirfield.

By Tony Earnshaw, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Friday, 22nd July 2022, 10:30 am

It follows reports that the group cut through security locks to access Old Bank recreation ground last week, and was aggressive and verbally abusive towards locals.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked the council if it would be applying for a possession order.

A spokesperson said: “We are aware of the traveller encampment at Old Bank Road, Mirfield. A welfare visit has been arranged and, where applicable, we will begin legal proceedings.”

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Travellers’ vehicles queuing on Old Bank Road in Mirfield as they wait to enter a recreation ground

However, councillors who raised the issue with the authority say they understand a possession claim has been listed for a hearing at court on Friday, and that the council’s enforcement team has served notice on the encampment.

Once the possession order has been granted by the courts, the council will serve notice at the site and arrange an eviction with the high court sheriff. Two days’ notice must be given before an eviction can be undertaken.

Then, when travellers have vacated the site, portaloo units will be removed, the site will cleansed and cleared of all rubbish, and secured.

It will then undergo a target hardening assessment – security measures aimed at deterring future illegal access.

Among those who reported the travellers’ camp is Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield), who said he was frustrated by the lack of action from West Yorkshire Police.

He pointed to new operational advice produced by the National Police Chiefs’ Council last month that he says allows police forces to act on trespassing on land without consent and/or unauthorised encampments like the one at Old Bank Road.

He said the document outlines how the police can act before travellers occupy land and deprive people of local amenities.

He said: “I have asked the police, who said they assessed it as low risk, for evidence of that.

"I have asked Kirklees why they haven’t reviewed their policies and actions knowing [that] a new law was coming out.

“I am very disappointed that Mirfield is once again feeling the brunt of illegal activities and residents, many of whom are elderly, living around the site feel abandoned by the authorities.”

West Yorkshire Police was approached for comment.