Members of the community were travelling to the annual Appleby Horse Fair – which starts today – in Cumbria when they say they were forced to move to a rugby club ground when their usual spot got soiled
Travellers have clashed with locals after farmers sprayed their camping sites with cow manure.
Members of the community were travelling to the annual Appleby Horse Fair – which starts today – in Cumbria when they arrived to find their usual camping spot soiled with manure and barriers made from boulders.
They decided to instead set up camp on rugby grounds nearby, sparking anger from the club.
Management from the Upper Eden Rugby Club was left furious when police said they would not close the gates to stop more of the group from arriving.
Police said they were not closing the gates to those trespassing in case they needed to leave in an emergency.
One rugby club stalwart wrote on social media: “Yesterday afternoon at 14.30, I was contacted by the Covid testing personnel to inform me that we had some travellers pitch up at the rugby club.
“I immediately attended the Club and requested support from club members… there were two police officers on site.
“The Covid testing personnel departed the site and we closed and padlocked the gate, at this point we were confronted by a large number of travellers and a stand-off ensued.
“There was a large number of vehicles and caravan blocking the road.
“We requested that the travellers on the Club car park be removed and sent on their way, the police informed us that this was a civil matter and they had no powers to move the travellers on.
“We were told that we would have to apply for a Court order to remove the travellers.
“We were also advised not to lock that gate as those travellers on the club premises may need to be out in an emergency or similar situation.
“The travellers gave us their word that they would leave the club today, I can confirm that they offered us money to stay.
“This was refused and we have not received any monies. The police reassured us that they would be performing regular visits to the Club to monitor the situation.
“We held our monthly Exec Meeting last night (Monday) at the Club and there was a large police presence, the police have issued the travellers with a Dispersal order which means that they have to leave the Club today or they will have their vehicle seized and be removed.
“To say that we are not happy with the situation is an understatement as we are a Community Club and we do value our neighbours, residents and businesses of Kirkby Stephen.”
The travelling group have argued they were being victimised and were forced to set up camp at the rugby club after their usual spot for the 250-year-old festival was soiled.
Traveller Pauline Foster, 69, said multiple police vans showed up and took pictures of their caravans and vehicles.
She said they were “doing no harm at all”.
She told MailOnline : “The only reason that we came here is because the site we’ve stayed at for years and years was soiled with cow manure and sectioned off with boulders by some farmer.
“It’s outside the village of Nateby in the middle of nowhere and the travelling people do no harm there.
“The discrimination and harassment we suffer is getting worse and if this was any other race or culture there would be an outcry, but because it’s our community people let it happen.”