PUPILS at a Scottish secondary had to be escorted to their classes today after travellers set up an illegal caravan camp in their school’s playing fields.
Aberdeen City Council announced that the authority would be gong to court to seek an immediate eviction order after the travellers, understood to be Irish gypsies, parked more than 30 caravans and other vehicles in the playing fields at the city’s Hazlehead Academy.
They are understood to be the same group of travellers who had set up an illegal camp last week at the nearby home ground of the Aberdeen Wanderers rugby club. The rugby pitch was left littered with bags of rubbish, gas canisters and pieces of metal and plastic.
Local Liberal Democrat Councillor Martin Greig condemned the actions of the travellers. And he declared: “The field is used by the pupils so this is a disruption to the normal life of the school and, naturally, the young people will be quite distressed and upset at the intrusion, close to their school.
“The move into the school field is a despicable act by a group of selfish and irresponsible individuals. Their lack of conscience is chilling. They disrupted the activities of the rugby club and then trashed their field.”
He claimed: “Now the travellers are deliberately threatening the welfare of young people at Hazlehead Academy. This is a sinister development that demonstrates a disgraceful antisocial attitude towards the citizens of our city. This is a deeply cynical development to try and avoid the legal consequences of their unlawful encampment in the rugby field in Groats Road.
“The welfare of the school pupils is at serious risk from the unpredictable disorderly behaviour of the travellers.”
Jennifer Stewart another Hazlehead, Ashley and Queens Cross councillor, said: “Local people have expressed strong views about the unwelcome annual traveller encampments in Hazlehead. It is not fair that residents cannot have access to their public spaces. Speedy and effective action is vital to look after the interests of the area.”
An Aberdeen City Council spokesman said: “Senior education officers, police and school management staff met last night to manage the situation at Hazlehead Academy as soon as it emerged that travellers were camped on the playing fields.
“Parents have been reassured and have been provided with as much information as possible. They have welcomed the professional way in which the school and council officers are dealing with the matter and the school is operating normally. Aberdeen City Council’s Gypsy/Traveller liaison officer is visiting the site today. There will be a court hearing this afternoon requesting an immediate eviction order.”
Councillor Greig welcomed the council’s decision to take immediate action to remove the travellers. But he warned: “The people of Aberdeen need to take action by refusing to buy services from anyone who calls at the door offering to do cash in hand work. .
“Residents should stop paying for the odd jobs that travellers provide. In the long run it is far safer and preferable for householders to pay legitimate tradespeople for gardening and other casual jobs - and not travellers. We cannot tolerate the misbehaviour any longer. If their sources of ready cash dry up, this will help to deter travellers from migrating to our area each summer.”
It is understood to be the first time that travellers have camped on city school property.