It has not been a positive story in the history of Kidsgrove with the travellers setting up camp for the 3rd time on Birchenwood Fields. However, despite all of this last night was one of those times when the Kidsgrove community makes you immensely proud to come from the area. It demonstrated visually to any councillors who dared show their face how much public anger there was against their failings.
The court order to leave Birchenwood fields should have come into action at 7pm on Sunday evening, however this came and went with little sign of movement from the travellers. There were increasing crowds growing, with Kidsgrove residents descending on mass to “see off” the travellers from the site. Mount Road was becoming congested as cars lined both sides of the road and reports suggesting up to 400 people were waiting to see enforcement action taken.
However once again residents feared they were going to be left disappointed and the travellers scoring another “goal” against the Labour controlled Newcastle Borough Council. There was talk that the travellers were not leaving the site and the council would instead have to go back to court in the morning (today) to get an enforcement order.
The mood was very tense and not helped by the Policing, who many complained as being arrogant, abrupt and unhelpful. There were also comments made about how the Police can spend hours (they attended from 4pm onwards) in Kidsgrove, yet went people call them it can take days to respond.
Rumours started to fly around at 8.30pm that they would be leaving the site this evening, which again brought about an increase in the size of the crowd descending on Birchenwood. At 9.30pm there started to be some action with the first of the travellers starting to leave the site, this continued through until around 10.45pm. The reports suggested that some headed towards the A500 at Talke, whilst others were heading up Kidsgrove Bank, it is not known where they have gone now but it has been suggested they must be fairly local.
This morning the site is now clear with a concrete block in place preventing access to the right hand side of the car park. It is not clear yet if Kidsgrove Lad and Dads will be able to hold their football competition next weekend, as clearly the council will now set about clearing and cleaning the site. This cost will be another footed by the tax payer and no doubt the council will be reluctant to share this figure with the public. If the football tournament doesn’t take place, who will make up the suggested £7,000 loss in funds to the organisation?
It is clear residents feel let down by the Labour controlled council, of which the council leader Mike Stubbs is also a Kidsgrove Councillor. The political game is now starting to be played as BBC Radio Stoke was told this morning the soon to be installed barrier has been paid for from a Labour County Councillors fund, however given the mood we detect this could be too little, too late for some of our elected members.
It has been a great shame that it has taken something like this to unite the area and bring back interest in local issues, however let’s now hope that finally the council is starting to learn and the fields at Birchenwood can return to their usual state as a recreational ground.