Calls for travellers to move on

Travellers parked up at the Northern Area playing fields in Washington.
Travellers parked up at the Northern Area playing fields in Washington.
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A TRAVELLING camp set up on a playing field has been reported to police by concerned residents.

About 20 caravans have been parked up at the Northern Area Playing Fields, off Stephenson Road, near Northumberland Way, in Washington.

Residents say the travellers are not permitted to set up camp there and are asking authorities to take action and make them move on.

Taxi driver David Bell, who lives in High Usworth, was passing by in his cab when he saw the caravans. He said: “I bet within a couple of days the place will be a right mess.”

However, Sunderland City Council today said it had a legal duty to consider the health, social and educational needs of travellers.

Depending on the outcome of an assessment, a decision would be made on what, if any, action will be taken.

Police say they have visited the travellers who are living at the site and were told that they intend to move within the next few days.

Concerns have been raised about the amount of rubbish that is being left on the site.

The area has been earmarked for redevelopment that could see changing rooms for sports teams built on the land. An application for the facility is due to be heard by a Sunderland City Council planning committee on Monday.

The application is for the “erection of a single storey changing pavilion to include six team changing rooms, two officials’ changing rooms, kitchen and public male, female and accessible toilets.”

A spokesman for Sunderland City Council said that the authority will continue to monitor the situation but that they expect the travellers to leave the area soon.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “On Sunday night police received reports of travellers on a site in Stephenson Road, in Washington.

“Officers have visited the travellers and are carrying out regular patrols in the area.

“We are working with the local authority and expect the travellers to leave in the next couple of days.”

Twitter: @davidallison88