Sheffield leisure centre forced to close after travellers set up camp in car park

A Sheffield leisure centre was forced to close after travellers set up camp in its car park – and a group are being asked to move on after arriving at a city park again.

By Dan Hayes
Sunday, 8th September 2019, 6:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th September 2019, 4:45 pm
Thorncliffe Health and Leisure Centre in High Green.
Thorncliffe Health and Leisure Centre in High Green.

Thorncliffe leisure centre in High Green shut its doors on Sunday after the group of six caravans arrived overnight.

The centre’s management initially said they intended to stay open but later said they would have to close.

A statement on their Facebook page said: "Please note, due to unforeseen circumstances outside of our control, we will be closing the centre. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”

It is the third time in four months that travellers have set up camp at the site, which is run by Places for People.

Meanwhile travellers have set up camp in Hillsborough Park. They are understood to be the same group of French travellers who stopped there last year.

Mark Jones, the council’s cabinet member for environment, streetscene and climate change, said: “We have visited both groups of travellers and are taking appropriate action to deal with them. In the case of the French travellers, they have stayed on the car park before and have not caused issues in the past, or indeed over the weekend. We have started a legal process which will give them until Saturday to move on.

“In the case of Thorncliffe, we are aware of several complaints from people in the area and the management of the nearby Places for People leisure centre. This is clearly unacceptable and we will be convening a multi-agency approach including South Yorkshire Police to resolve this issue quickly. We have also advised Places for People of the steps it can take to avoid this happening again. We understand the concerns of people in the area and are taking this very seriously indeed.

“We will always work with those who respect our city where ever possible.”

Only last month, travellers were ordered to leave the leisure centre, with residents claiming their presence had caused a number of fundraising events to be cancelled, and several caravans also appeared in June.

On Sunday a member of staff at the facility said ‘the local council and other authorities’ had been informed but said he didn’t know what action, if any, was being taken.

Last month, officials from Sheffield Council visited the site along with police and served those present with a notice to leave, which they subsequently did.

A user of the leisure centre, who asked not to be named, said: “My husband and daughter, who are members, were at the gym and I take my granddaughter to her swimming lessons on a Wednesday.

“There are around six caravans, which were picked up by CCTV cameras arriving during the night.

“I think everyone is sick of it now as they impact the area, football clubs, shops, schools etc. They park all over so spaces are limited.”

On Monday the leisure centre was open again as normal.