VOLUNTEERS and members of a rugby club united to clear mess left on site by Travellers.

Bishop Auckland Rugby Club, in County Durham, was left strewn with human faeces, horse manure, and broken glass on the grounds after Travellers set up camp near the club.

Mark Macnair, president of the club, said: “On our grounds there were five horses tethered for ten days, so a lot of manure had to be cleared away.

“There were broken bottles smashed in the carpark and around the building, but the worst of it was the human faeces where they had used all of the outside of our building and our containers as human toilets.

“The way the site around the clubhouse was left was disgusting, especially where there were numerous areas of human faeces.

“It all had to be power hosed and disinfected, and then having to clear the mess from the five horses tethered up was very frustrating and annoying."

The encampment also put off members from visiting the club for daily exercise.

Mr Mcnair added: “It has been a traumatic six months for the club - back in February and March we had floods three weekends in a row, and we had to pay a large amount of money to have the pitches treated and repaired in preparation for the rugby.

“We had one weekend of rugby before Covid-19 came along after putting so much money into the flooding issue, and from March 14 we shut down.

“We had a number of rugby functions but also a lot of external events in our function room such as weddings and christenings that have all been cancelled or postponed for a year.

"A huge amount of our revenue comes in during the summer for external entertainment and all of that has been cancelled.”

With all issues combined, the club has spent and lost tens of thousands of pounds.

Joanne Waller, head of community protection at Durham County Council, said: “As soon as we were alerted to the unauthorised encampment at West Mills Picnic Area on June 2, we worked alongside our partners, including Durham Constabulary, to resolve the issue.

“To try to minimise disruption while the unauthorised encampment was in place, our clean and green team issued and collected bags for household waste, as well as removing broken glass.

“Our neighbourhood wardens also gathered the horses that had broken free and transferred them to a horse handler for veterinary checks and potential rehoming.

"The day the encampment left, on June 12, our clean and green team carried out a thorough cleanse of the picnic area and assisted Bishop Auckland Rugby Club to tidy its grounds.”

Mr Mcnair added: “On behalf of the club we would like to say a huge thank you to everybody who turned up to help clear up, it’s much appreciated.

"We are also delighted to be able to confirm the clubhouse will be re-opening on Saturday, July 11.

"We have a number of exciting events planned to welcome back friends, members, alumni, guests and visitors and will detail these in the coming days."