Travellers must leave the Reading football pitches they have set up an encampment on, a court has ruled.

Fifteen caravans have been parked at Kings Meadow football pitches since Saturday, September 11.

Despite repeated efforts from Reading Borough Council to get the travellers to leave the site, they have remained at the field.

Reading Chronicle:

But a Section 78 (Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994) application from the local authority to get the travellers to leave the site was today (October 8) approved by Reading Magistrates' Court.

This means the group will be forced to leave by tomorrow morning.

Reading Chronicle:

Their presence has meant several children's football games have had to be cancelled over the past month.

Reading Chronicle:

The court heard how the encampment was set up on Saturday, September 11. 

A Reading Borough Council officer first visited the site on September 14 to tell the group the field was council-owned and they have to leave. 

By September 20, the council handed the travellers a written direction ordering them to leave under Section 77 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

The group did not vacate the meadows, forcing Reading Borough Council to apply for a Section 78 order. 

A lawyer acting on behalf of RBC said: "The council's position is the group has no authority to stay on this land."

The council representative claimed the group had dropped litter across the field and had driven vehicles across it. 

They added: "There is a junior football league that uses the land and they have had to cancel their games. That is another reason the council wants this order today."

Reading Chronicle:

The court also heard from one a woman currently staying at the traveller encampment. 

Following a short break, Magistrate Mr Elwyn Hopkin agreed to approve the Section 78 order. 

The approval of this order means the group can now be prosecuted if they do not leave the site. 

Following the granting of the order, the group has 24 hours to leave the site. 

Should the encampment disappear before tomorrow, junior football could potentially resume at the Meadow ending a four-week break for youngsters.