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“Law and order is turning into a joke”, says Leader of Council as travellers invade playing fields

At least 20 caravans have descended on Three Bridges Playing Field.

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UPDATE: A section 61 notice has been authorised by Sussex Police and will be delivered for them to leave the playing fields by 9am tomorrow.

A deluge of caravans has descended on Three Bridges Playing Field, causing concern for local residents.

The group of travellers reportedly parked up in the fields yesterday evening (19 August). Police were allegedly on scene at the time when dozens of vehicles, including over 20 caravans, arrived at the area and blocked Three Bridges Road.

At least 20 caravans, plus other vehicles, can be seen parked up at Three Bridges Playing Field.

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It would appear that the travellers gained access via Three Bridges Cricket Club, where a significant number of tyre tracks lead onto the fields.

Today, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Peter Lamb has fired back at the town’s MP saying, he ‘could probably do with a refresher on local government powers’. Henry Smith MP took to Twitter after hearing of the travellers’ arrival.

He said: “I sincerely hope that #Crawley Borough Council will swiftly act to move on travellers who’ve occupied Jubliee Fields in Three Bridges at understandable concern to neighbourhood households. That’s what I’m calling for and is the local authority’s responsibility to local residents.”

But Peter Lamb hit back hard saying: “Hi Henry. Could you ask your mate @KatyBourne why @sussex_police are no longer willing to issue the s62 notices we need to move encampments on quickly? You could probably do with a refresher on local government powers too. Regards, Peter”

But some residents are concerned that the council are not acting quick enough. Richard replied to Henry’s Tweet, saying:

“Unlikely that @crawleybc [Crawley Borough Council] will do anything as THE COUNCIL LET THEM IN according to @sussex_police , and “it depends how long they want to stay”.”

The council’s leader was again quick to respond, stating his belief that ‘Law and order is turning into a joke’. He said:

“Actually, they cut through the security barrier and @sussex_police said they weren’t willing to hang around. The council’s view is they’ve broken and entered the property and aren’t welcome. Law and order is turning into a joke around here.”

Police arrive this morning to assess the situation.

A spokesperson from West Sussex County Council said:

“Travellers arrived on Jubilee Fields last night. We are currently liaising with Sussex Police and carrying out initial enquiries.”

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Crawley College to reopen following incident

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Crawley College will be beginning a phased reopening to students from tomorrow, Thursday 29 April.

The phased reopening will take place between tomorrow and Tuesday 4 May with full details by courses provided on the college website www.crawley.ac.uk . Students should check details before returning to campus.

The campus has remained closed for the past two days following police investigations into the incident that took place at the college on Monday (26 April).

Vicki Illingworth, Principal of Crawley College, said:

“We are looking forward to welcoming our students and staff back to the college.

“We’d like to reassure everyone, the college is safe and they will be well supported in their return to the campus.

“Sussex Police have confirmed that this is being treated as an isolated incident which is not terror related and nobody else is being sought in connection with the incident.  The individual concerned is in police custody and has been charged.”

“We are now focussed on ensuring we can bring students and staff safely back on site. We’re proud of the service we provide to our students to give them opportunities in education and training.

“I can reassure everyone that this was a one-off incident and we have strategies in place to keep everyone as safe as possible, as well as giving the students the support they need to come back and join us to complete their studies successfully.”

Vicki also echoed her earlier comments, paying tribute to the staff who supported students who were on site during the events of Monday afternoon.

She added:

“I continue to remain full of admiration of our team. They pulled together on Monday and implemented all of the protocols we have in place to keep students safe.

“They’ve continued to work together to support each other and their students over the past couple of days – and they will continue to do so when students return to campus.

“We are also particularly proud of the two members of staff who acted so bravely and swiftly to apprehend the individual before the police arrived. They acted selflessly to protect their students and the college community. They have asked for privacy during this time.

“It was a very intense time for everyone involved.

“The students who were kept inside the college and who were part of the emergency evacuation were supported throughout by our staff and counselling services have been available to them this week. These services will continue to be in place for them to access.

“We’ve continued to be in touch with our students through our support services to check that they are ok and we will resume face-to-face counselling as soon as we can.”

Work is taking place at the college campus to repair some damage which was sustained during the evacuation and subsequent investigations, with teams working hard to ensure the campus is ready for reopening.

The college would like to thank students, staff, the Police and Emergency Services and the wider community for their ongoing support and understanding.

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