Yarmouth school fears over contamination of playing field where travellers moved in
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016
A high school could be left to pick up the bill when travellers leave a playing field they have been on since Sunday.
A group of travellers with more than 24 caravans turned up on Sunday afternoon and moved onto the Barnard Bridge playing field owned by Great Yarmouth High School.
More then joined them on Monday night, and brought horses onto the site.
But even though eviction notices were given to the travellers on Wednesday, and a court order issued yesterday to move them on, head John Robson was concerned he would be left to pay to clean up their mess.
Mr Robson said: 'We're in a situation where there has been criminal damage to the fence and other equipment, and it's a health and safety issue for the young people of Great Yarmouth High School.'
Mr Robson was concerned that because there were no facilities for running water on the site, any waste could soak into the ground, contaminating the earth.
He said: 'So I have to a health and safety issue there, and that's where all our football pitches are, but if they are contaminated with rubbish and faeces I can't let the children play there.'
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'There's no running water on that site so where is all their waste going? And the answer is it's on the field.
'And on top of that I might have to pay for the clean up. Am I happy about it? No.
'But I would rather just get on with it and get it done.'
Mr Robson, who is only in the post until the end of next week, said he had spoken to Great Yarmouth Borough Council who said they may be able to help with the clean, but the school would need to foot the bill.
He said: 'We have now ascertained the field is owned by the school, but I'm not happy about being passed from pillar to post.
'So it has to be me [who pays] and clearly I'm not happy, but I would expect the borough council to accept some responsibility. The travellers cut the lock off with an angle grinders. It was not open access.'
But he added the council said they wouldn't be able to guarantee the site would be completely sterile.
'If stuff is sinking into the ground, that's what they mean about they can't guarantee it will be sterile,' he said.
'I've got to make sure that's washed away before children use it. And I've got to find a way to get my field back.
'I will have to divert from the schools fund. This is part of the challenge we will be left with, to make sure that field is sterile. I can't allow young people on there.'
Mr Robson was also keen to get the issue sorted quickly, as he didn't want new head Louise Jackson, who starts in September, to have to deal with it.
He said: 'I do not want this to be the first issue she comes into so I just need to get this school back to where it was.
'It's actually stopping me doing what I'm meant to do, I'm also receiving requests from residents wanting to know what's going on.'
He explained this was why he had asked the borough council for help.
'It's not just a school issue, it's a community issue,' he said.
'Why should a football team who give opportunities to the local community have to put out? They may have to move somewhere else.'
'There's a duty of care for the council.
'It's affecting the local community and their quality of life.'
In a statement, Great Yarmouth Borough Council said: 'The borough council's priority at this stage is liaising with the school, police and Norfolk County Council, which as landowner is leading on enforcement, to ensure the travellers leave the site as quickly as possible.
'Environmental Health officers are monitoring the site from an Environmental Health perspective and have provided the travellers with bins to enable the responsible disposal of waste. After the site is vacated, the borough council is willing to clean the playing field on Environmental Health grounds. The costs in such cases are met by the landowner.'