Travellers' caravans park up at Nuffield gym in St Albans
PUBLISHED: 15:08 18 November 2016 | UPDATED: 16:11 18 November 2016
Travellers have recently descended upon two sites in St Albans, including the car park of a privately operated fitness centre.
St Albans district councillor for Colney Heath, Chris Brazier, said that three caravans and several transit vans arrived at the Nuffield Health Fitness and Wellbeing Gym, Highfield Park Drive, on Wednesday (16) night.
Nuffield has this afternoon confirmed that the vehicles left at about midday today (Friday).
Cllr Brazier said the travellers pitched up because they were to attend a function at the London Road Social Club, in Cell Barnes Lane, last night.
The Herts Advertiser understands that there were reports of a scuffle at the venue, but the incident was dealt with by the club.
A spokesman for Herts Police said the force received reports of an affray at 9.38pm on Thursday.
He said: “Officers arrived but no offences were witnessed. One man had received a minor hand injury but declined an ambulance.
“No arrests were made in connection with the incident.”
The travellers’ use of Nuffield gym’s private car park for accommodation follows the recent return of another travellers’ family to a public car park in Smallford, several months after they left.
On Wednesday, November 9, a family of travellers parked their caravans at the Alban Way car park in Station Road in the rural centre, near the historic Smallford Station.
In July the district council issued a legal notice requiring them to leave the site, but the travellers’ solicitors successfully brought an initial halt to the official action. However, they later left.
Cllr Brazier said that following the family’s recent return to Smallford, he had spoken with the authority’s legal team, which is – yet again – looking at moving the travellers on.
He said that when the family was previously evicted, “they left quite a mess, which we had to clean up.
“The police have already been down there, and introduced themselves, but until the legal action is taken, they can’t be moved on. It is very frustrating for everyone.
“Locals are very concerned because the station is being refurbished, and they are very close to it.”
In regards to the situation at Nuffield, Cllr Brazier said he understood that the travellers said they would leave the gym’s car park today, adding, “this is a rare occurrence at Nuffield.”
The councillor said he had been left wondering whether “we need to put more locks and bollards” on any such open space in St Albans “but Nuffield is private property. Nuffield has been OK with it all, and told them they would pursue legal means to get them off [but] because it’s private land, it’s up to Nuffield to deal with it.”
He said that while there are more than enough travellers’ pitches in St Albans, “more are needed elsewhere in Herts”.