COUNTY NEWS: Travellers take over school playing field
Police are now at the scene of a school whose grounds were taken over by travellers this morning in West Sussex.
Meanwhile, sixth form students at the school – Hazelwick School in Three Bridges, Crawley – have now been sent home after earlier being kept inside with other pupils and staff.
Dozens of caravans, cars, dogs and horses were reported to have moved onto the school playing field after gates to the field were forced open.
While police are still at the school, the school itself now says that lessons are running as normal this afternoon.
A police spokesman said around 30 vehicles and caravans belonging to a group of travellers arrived at the school at around 11am with the first vehicles pulling up on a verge close to the school entrance.
“As further travellers arrived, they moved on the school playing field. They are believed to be the same group that was at Manor Royal who left after being given notice to quit by the landowner,” he said.
Police on the scene are liaising with West Sussex County Council as the landowners and assessing the site.
In a message on Twitter the school said that the school day would finish as usual at 3pm.
Pupils, who have since gone home, say that other pupils are sitting GCSE exams this afternoon.
Meanwhile, Crawley MP Henry Smith earlier took to Twitter to say he was ‘very concerned’ about the situation and he called on the police and Crawley Council to ‘act swiftly.’
Pupils themselves who witnessed the travellers’ arrival from inside their classroom described “more than 30 caravans going onto the playing field with still more coming in.”
They said there were horses, dogs and chickens there.
One boy said he had seen women hanging up clothes to dry and children playing football.