Police And Gypsy Stand Off After Dozens Of Caravans Refuse To Move From School Car Park

February 27, 2017 | by | 0 Comments
Travellers caravans at Shenley Academy in Weoley Castle, Birmingham.

Travellers caravans at Shenley Academy in Weoley Castle, Birmingham.

Children returning from half term were given a police escort to lessons while others were told to stay at home – after their school was invaded by GYPSIES.

Police and bailiffs were today locked in a tense stand-off with the travellers who refused to move from Shenley Academy, in Weoley Castle, Birmingham.

Dozens of caravans moved onto the site on Friday and were served a 24-hour eviction notice by the council over the weekend.

But the group refused to move on Sunday forcing head teacher Lucy Monk to warn hundreds of students to stay at home.

Only pupils aged 16-18 were allowed to attend and were told to arrive after 8am when officers escorted them past 20 caravans.

The Year 11 students and sixth formers were ordered to stay inside all day, including for PE, break and lunchtime.

Mrs Monk told parents: “I recognise that this situation is detrimental to the education of our students, and it is certainly not a decision which has been taken lightly.

“I have been working with West Midlands Police throughout the weekend as this situation has unfolded.

“I hope to be able to return the whole academy to a normal operation as quickly as possible this week.”

Travellers caravans at Shenley Academy in Weoley Castle, Birmingham.

Travellers caravans at Shenley Academy in Weoley Castle, Birmingham.

Mrs Monk said Year 11, 12 and 13 students would only be able to enter the school via the delivery entrance.

She said they would be “supervised by members of the senior leadership team and West Midlands Police” and they should not try to use the main entrance.

A Year 8 trip to Aberdovey in Wales was due to go ahead as planned.

Birmingham councillors have called for greater powers to remove gypsies faster after a spate of invasions across the city in recent months.

Tory councillor Des Flood said: “It is a disgrace that children will have their education affected due to the city council dragging their feet in evicting these travellers.

“Not all pupils will be allowed in school – the school and the police are trying their best in these challenging circumstances.

“There’s still a stand-off and lots of shouting from the travellers. I’ve been to have a chat with the head teacher and some parents have decided not to send their children in today because of the travellers.

“But the school has done their best to provide the best education as they said they would.

“There’s about three police vans, about six police cars and both ends of Long Nuke Road are still cordoned off.”

Fellow conservative councillor John Lines, who represents the Bartley Green Ward, added: “That is the worst yet.

“They have ruined our parks and now they are invading our schools and not for education.

“I’m horrified at this – and it’s because we have been too soft with travellers.

“I have residents who saw them breaking in and called the police, but they were told its a council problem.

“Then we have the council saying its an academy school so it’s not their problem. Everyone is passing the buck on this.

“I can only thank the other schools who have rallied round to help out.”

A local resident who saw the gypsies arrive said: “I saw them pull into the car park and thought they were just turning around.

“But they stopped and then started setting themselves up for what looks like a long stay.

“The school needs to act quickly.”

Another dad of one girl at the school, who did not want to be named, added: “Travellers wonder why they get a bad name.

“Yet here is a group who are refusing to move from the grounds of a school, disrupting children’s education and showing a flagrant disregard for the law.

“The site is strew with rubbish and they need to be moved on immediately so the kids can get on with their schooling.

“It is bad enough when they move on playing fields but its pretty low of them to move on to a school and refuse to move.”

The gypsies left rubbish and smashed bottles of alcohol scattered across the school playground as they eventually left the site at 10.30am this morning.

Locals who claimed they had been attacked with catapults and dogs over the weekend cheered as the travellers pulled out of the academy’s gates.

About five police cars and ten officers stood watch along Long Nuke Road, which was blocked off to members of the public while the group were kicked out.

Sam Ward, 19, a former student at the school, said: “I’ve been here all weekend – I’ve got mates still at the school.

“I tried to go over and they started threatening me. There was a guy in his 40s with ginger hair who said he’d set his dog on me.

“It was a big German Shepherd – he let it off its lead and it chased us out of the school.

“When I came back later there was another man with a catapult. He was firing stuff at me.

“They’ve been going round telling everyone here they’re going to rob them.

“There was a lot of trouble at a party at the Weoley Castle pub on Friday evening when they first came.

“All the gypsy adults came over and started scrapping.”

Travellers and their caravans leave Shenley Academy

Travellers and their caravans leave Shenley Academy

One mother, who did not want to be named, said: “I am not happy about this at all – I am very angry.

“How did this take so long to sort out? They have trashed the school and kept most of the pupils away today.”

Astonishingly, the gypsies claimed they did not know that Shenley Academy was a school.

Charlotte Connors, 21, said: “Obviously we wouldn’t have come here if we knew it was a school.

“We thought it was a leisure centre, that’s why we’re leaving now.

“But if there were more sites for us we wouldn’t have to do this.

“There’s no uproar about our kids not having a school. We keep getting moved from place to place.”

West Midlands Police said the illegal camp involved around 60 adults in 20 caravans which also included children, dogs and a horse.

Around 20 officers were called after tensions flared when council bailiffs attempted to remove the travellers from the site.

Inspector Steve Rice said: “I think this operation has gone very well today.

“They arrived at midday on Friday and less than 72 hours later we have managed to remove them from the site.

“They arrived and entered as the gates were left open.”

Sergeant Dave Cotter added: “Their behaviour is totally unacceptable and has caused huge disruption for the school, teachers and pupils, plus parents who’ve been forced to make last minute care arrangements for children unable to come to school.

“The group ignored a notice to leave, which gave them 24 hours to move on, and in the end we were left with no option but to force them to leave the school grounds.

“Since they arrived on Friday we’ve conducted house to house patrols, listened to people’s concerns, and reassured them we would act swiftly. I hope the community can see that’s exactly what we’ve done.”

Officers also seized an Audi from the illegal camp on Saturday for having no tax or insurance.

The force said it is suspected the car was involved in a non-stop collision in Northfield High Street, Birmingham, earlier that day.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “It is unacceptable that children’s education should be affected in this way.

“Parents have every right to be upset and outraged at the disruption to their children’s schooling.

“I welcome the tough action taken to evict the travellers.

“I recently held a summit, bringing the police and local councils from across the West Midlands around the table to respond to this ongoing issue.

“This disgraceful incident highlights why it is crucial for the summit’s recommendations to be acted upon as soon as possible.

“I have raised this incident personally with the Chief Constable.

“It is crucial that Birmingham City Council work with myself and other agencies to bring about a long-term solution to this pressing issue.”

SWNS_SCHOOL_TRAVELLERS_24Laura Griffiths, 36, said the travellers had been abusive to police and local residents after plaguing the area with anti-social behaviour the entire weekend.

The mum-of-two added: “They’ve been blasting out music all weekend and even this morning when police arrived.

“There’s bin liners all over the place. Around 800 of the kids couldn’t go in this morning and the playground isn’t safe even now.

“There’s smashed glass everywhere and they were shouting at and abusing police- their behaviour was feral.

“My daughter’s were set work to do but I’ve had to have a day off work because of their selfish actions. They should be ashamed of themselves.

“I kept my girls in the house on the evenings because they were intimidating the locals. Nobody felt safe. It was really quite scary.”

Harry Pullman, 59, who lives near the school, added: “I watched them turn up over the weekend and there just seemed to be a never-ending stream of caravans.

“I couldn’t believe it when they went to the school but even once they are moved on they will just go and set up somewhere else.

“Its like a continuous merry-go-round and its the taxpayers that foots the bill because they leave an almighty mess behind wherever they go.”

Head of environmental health for Birmingham City Council, Mark Croxford, said: “It’s simply not acceptable for people to close schools through their inconsiderate actions; we will use all powers available to us resolve such issues.

“It was only right that we acted quickly to ensure the school could reopen at the earliest opportunity.”

Shenley Academy is a mixed school that caters for 980 pupils aged between 11 and 19 and was rated “Good” at its last Ofsted inspection in 2014.

Comedian Sir Lenny Henry visited the academy as part of a theatre workshop in November last year.

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