The most recent updates on the situation are as follows:
- The land where they are currently situated belongs to Leeds Beckett University.
- In terms of how access was gained: to the best of my knowledge the lock appears to have been broken on the barrier, both the police and the University have investigated and neither have found the lock. This has still to be officially proved. After this is all over the University will be carrying out a review to see what more could be done in terms of security.
- The University will be getting the legal documentation in place ASAP, with a view to eviction as quickly as possible. The Travellers themselves have said thye intend to leave by the weekend. The University have also advised that once the site is vacated they will carry out a thorough check of all of the site in terms of any damage done to the fields in terms of sports participation, any effect on dog walkers who use the area and any causal use of the area by both adults and children.
- The Police, Safer Leeds and The University have been advised about the bonfire and the use of quad bikes and motorcycles for them to decide the most appropriate action to take.
- I have also received the following reply from Leeds University:
As you will no doubt be aware from local residents, travellers have set up on the Bedquilts Fields. I have been up today to have a look and at the moment they don’t appear to be on the University land or the part leased to Adel War Memorial Association, however, whilst we were there some of their vehicles did drive on to the pitches marked out by AWMA.
I will continue to keep you updated.
Update 2 – From The Police
“Good Morning Councillor,
I have spoken with the University regards their action. The Solicitors have been instructed and will be seeking an eviction from the land. She was due in a further meeting this morning to ascertain any likely timescale and will update me with this.
I have been to the site this morning and spoken with the spokesperson of the group. I have advised him about their behaviour regarding the quad bikes and he states he will warn the travellers that were using this. Obviously I cannot guarantee this will have any effect but I have told him if it continues the Section 59 may be used to seize the quad.
The travellers are keeping the site generally clean and bagging most of their rubbish.
They still maintain they will leave at the weekend but obviously we have no guarantee of this. I will be visiting again this afternoon and will keep you updated.
Please assure the residents that the University, Police and Council are using the powers they have but there is a legal process that has to be used to lawfully evict people from the land they occupy. This can at times be a process that takes several days but if done lawfully will ensure the travellers are removed.
I have also discussed with [The University] about the security of the land longer term once they have gone to prevent this from happening in the future. They are very much on board this this.”
Update 3 – From Leeds Beckett University
As per our discussion earlier, Paul Smith, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Leeds Beckett University has said
“We are aware that members of the traveller community entered the Bedquilts site at Adel on Tuesday 8 August, and are currently occupying land owned by the university without our permission. As soon as we became aware of this, we took necessary steps to regain possession of the land and to remove these individuals. We have sought an Order from the County Court and will use all necessary powers to enforce this when granted.
We do understand that some anti-social behaviour has been ongoing on the site, and as soon as we regain possession the university will do everything possible to restore the land to its previous state. We thank residents for their co-operation in the meantime.”