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Football club counts cost of traveller invasion
Published 28/07/14

TRAVELLERS have left a trail of destruction after setting up camp in Henley last week.

Football pitches were destroyed and human faeces left lying on the ground after the group pitched up on Jubilee Park field, off the A4155, last Wednesday night.

The travellers, who had about 10 caravans, dozens of cars and several dogs, were removed from the site on Saturday after police issued a section 61 order. They were escorted to the M4 at Reading.

Henley town council sent a team to the site over the weekend to clear up rubbish left by the travellers, which also included glass bottles and animal waste.

Town clerk Mike Kennedy thanked police for their quick action and condemned the damage caused by travellers as “unacceptable”.

Mr Kennedy said: “Inspector Mark Harling has been sensational in his support for the situation and supervising the removal of the traveller family from the site. Without him they would still be there now.

“In the main the travellers caused little trouble initially and stayed out of sight but nevertheless they caused criminal damage in breaking in to our property, which is unacceptable.

“The town council undertook a clean-up operation, involving removal of rubbish from the site including bottles and human and canine faeces.

“It’s unpleasant and I pay tribute to my team for their work.”

AFC Henley, which has a number of junior football pitches on the site, is also facing thousands of pounds of repairs after grass on the field was torn up by cars and goalposts were bent and broken.

The club has spent £25,000 on maintaining the pitches over the last three years, including work totalling £6,000 just three weeks ago.

Club chairman Dieter Hinke, who is also a town councillor, said: “You can see tyre marks all over the field where they have been racing around and I saw the children swinging on the goalposts.

“We don’t have the money in the bank to carry out the repairs so I’m not sure what we’re going to do.

“The club will have to raise the money.

“It’s a matter of urgency because the season starts on September 6 and with groundwork you need rain to let the grass grow.

“Why would you do that to the goalposts? You can clearly see they are for children.

“It does make you less sympathetic to them when you see the damage, it’s malicious and unnecessary.”

Groundsman and life president John Hooper added: “This is the second time they have come on to this field. I can’t see the point of what they have done.

“It’s one thing to come in and park in the field but to do the damage they have done, wreck the goalposts and destroy the ground, I can’t see why.”

The damage to the pitches will be assessed this week and quotes agreed for repairs.

A spokeswoman for Thames Valley Police confirmed officers visited the field and issued at section 61 order to the travellers but did not give any further information.

Published 28/07/14

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