From This is Cornwall:

YOUTH football matches had to be cancelled on Sunday after a family of Travellers moved on to a recently revamped pitch.

Truro City Council has leased the former rugby pitch at Kenwyn from Cornwall Council and spent more than £2,000 replacing the rugby posts with Football Association standard goals and facilities for youth games.

But matches on Sunday had to be cancelled after a Roma family [in fact Irish Travellers not Roma] moved on to the site at the end of last week.

Truro mayor and Cornwall Council member for Kenwyn Rob Nolan said two vans initially arrived on Thursday evening.

He said: “Somehow the chain and lock on the gates at the entrance to the pitch had been broken, apparently before they arrived.

“They said they would only be there for a couple of days but more have arrived. The police think they might be there for a month or two.

“We have spent a couple of thousand pounds sorting out the land for youth football and now we have had to cancel one of the first matches.

“It’s more than a nuisance. A lot of money has been invested up there for the community.”

Truro council hoped the newly enhanced pitch would help meet growing demand for facilities in the city, as well as relieve the frequently water-logged Boscawen Park in wet weather.

Parks manager, Richard Budge, said the Travellers have not used the field and are parked on the hard-standing.

“They are blocking the access to the facilities up there,” he said. “We felt it was inappropriate to put people in a position where they had to negotiate with them to use the facilities and thought it best in the situation to cancel the games.”

Mr Nolan said Gypsy liaison co-ordinators at Cornwall Council had issued the Travellers with a behaviour plan.

Truro police’s Inspector Mark Richards said: “We will no doubt be discussing a way forward over the coming days.”

A statement from Cornwall Council said: “The council and the police will endeavour to move them on as soon as possible.”