Travellers who moved onto playing fields at Netherton briefly found themselves “locked in” by an angry resident.
Three caravans and other vehicles moved onto the playing fields at Hawkroyd Bank on Thursday night after a post designed to prevent vehicle access to the site was left unlocked.
An unnamed resident padlocked the post on Friday morning to prevent more vehicles moving onto the site. But the padlock was removed when one of the travellers reportedly complained that it was a danger to health and safety and that his wife was pregnant.
Stephen Bentley, chairman of Netherton Juniors Football Club, which uses the playing fields, said the caravans had parked in the middle of the pitch.
The site also has a number of council allotments and a fenced-off children’s playground.
Mr Bentley said it was unclear who had left the gateway unlocked as keys to the padlock were held by a number of people, including football coaches, some allotment holders and Kirklees Council employees.
Mr Bentley said someone had padlocked the gate briefly to prevent other vehicles coming onto the site, but had been unlocked again following the traveller’s complaint.
Mr Bentley said he told the man they had parked in the middle of a football pitch. “He said they hadn’t realised, although the pitch is marked out,” said Mr Bentley.
Mr Bentley suggested that they move the caravans off the pitch to another part of the playing field. He said the pitch was needed for training sessions and that a junior football tournament is due to take place in coming days.
The Examiner has contacted Kirklees Council for comment.
The law allows police to remove travellers if there are: two or more of them and a police officer believes they intend to “reside” there; they have been asked to leave by the owner; they have caused damage to land or property; they have been threatening or abusive to the landowner; and they have six or more vehicles between them.
If they fail to leave or return within a three-month period they will be committing an offence which carries a maximum three-month jail term.