Local authorities have been informed of “altercations” involving travellers recently settled on Walmgate Stray after one University of York student was shot at with a pellet gun, Nouse has learned.
Around 20 caravans, which appeared last weekend, are situated on the south section on Walmgate Stray next to Heslington Lane. Vehicles can be seen driving across the publicly owned land and damage has been caused to some of the fences surrounding the field.
Second year Philosophy and History student and Editor of The Yorker Jack Harvey was walking near the Sports Centre when he was accosted by two youngsters understood to be residing in the Walmgate Stray camp.
“I was walking to the campus via the public footway from Broadway to the bottom of the campus,” Harvey recounted in a statement issued to Nouse. “A group of seven or eight children approached me and a little girl, with her hand stretched out, said, ‘Give us money!’”
When Harvey refused and turned to walk away, the children shot at him with a pellet gun.
“As I walked toward the Sports Centre I felt three pellets hit me in the back of my coat,” he continued. Harvey then decided to enter the building and report the incident immediately.
“These children weren’t any trouble to me, but a lone pensioner or a young child might fare differently,” he explained. “The Sports Centre called the campus security and the police, to whom I gave a statement.”
There are also reports that students have had faeces thrown at them by children on pathways.
YUSU President Ben Leatham yesterday stated: “A number of minor incidents have taken place on the field near the Sports Centre over the past few days. The police have been made aware of them. If you do experience any issues please report them to campus security at 01904 32 4444 and make sure if you are in the area to look after your valuables.”
When asked their opinion on events, one third year Philosophy student told Nouse: “I think the fact that this camp is so close to University ground is significant.
“Lots of students travel by Walmgate Stray on their way onto campus. This may be a Council issue, but it is the University’s responsibility to inform students of how to deal with altercations.”
Another student, who is in their first year at York studying Biology, disagreed, commenting: “We should be careful not to label anyone by a stereotype. Those who have caused disruption are only children, after all. As long as students are sensible and take basic measures to stay secure, this is a matter that should be cleared up by the Council, just as it is in every other instance of travellers settling on public ground. It is not really a University matter.”
This is not the first time travellers have set up camp on Walmgate Stray. According to local sources, groups have been known in the past to frequent the area.
Walmgate Stray is managed by York City Council in consultation with Freemen of the City and covers an area of approximately 79 acres between the University of York and Fulford.
The traveller community was last weekend issued with a 10-day notice, requesting that they relocate. When asked, the Council told Nouse: “The group was served a notice to quit on Saturday morning.”
When asked, David Duncan, University registrar and Secretary, commented: “We are aware that a number of caravans have parked close to the University campus on Walmgate Stray. This is not University land, so we do not propose to take any action other than to monitor the situation.”