A famous British brewery came under attack by a group of 100 travellers who forced their way onto the site and ‘evicted’ staff, it is claimed.
Thwaites Brewery said the travellers stopped them from accessing their head office in Blackburn on Saturday night in what they described as an "aggressive stand-off".
The brewery’s bosses feared their family business was in real danger during the incident and said they’d never experienced anything of that nature in the 200 years they’d occupied the spot.
“Hourly the site is being degraded and in the space of a day has become a disgusting mess," a spokesman for Thwaites said on Sunday.
After police were called, the travellers eventually left the brewery.
A spokesman for Thwaites said on Sunday: “We have effectively been evicted from our head office and brewery site by a group of up to 100 travellers who are now denying us access in an aggressive stand-off. They are putting our family business in real and present danger.
“We have been in Blackburn for over 200 years and have never experienced anything like this. They have no business on our site and are carrying out criminal damage as we speak.
“We are in discussions with police who have supported us during the course of the day and have the powers to evict this group immediately under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, which they have not yet exercised.
"We desperately need their help to remove these people as soon as possible. We call on the police to act now to address this situation."
The brewery said it had established a crisis centre to ensure customers could continue to do business, but added "every hour’s delay, or awaiting the courts opening on Tuesday after the bank holiday to get an eviction notice, will mean further criminal damage to our site and our business".
“We find ourselves powerless victims in this situation and I find it incredible that these travellers are allowed to get away with this sort of behaviour,” they added.
A statement by Superintendent Russ Procter, of Lancashire Police, released before the incident concluded yesterday, said: “We are aware of an ongoing incident at Thwaites Brewery in Blackburn.
“On Saturday evening a number of travellers entered the premises.
"Despite assurances the group would move before bank holiday Monday, this has yet to happen, with around 21 caravans and 25 vehicles currently on site.
“At this time a number of officers are at the scene supporting security staff. We are working to resolve the matter as soon as possible.
“We are aware of concerns regarding alleged criminality at the brewery and are seeking to investigate any offences committed.
“While we understand the frustrations of those involved with the business and the impact this incident has had, we would urge patience while we work with Thwaites staff to see those who have taken up camp on the site removed."
Blackburn and Darwen Police then posted on their Facebook page yesterday: "Further to our earlier statement, following police intervention and with cooperation from those on the site, all the travellers have now left Thwaites Brewery in Blackburn."
A spokesman for Thwaites thanked Lancashire Police who they said they wouldn’t have been able to resolve the situation without and praised the support of local MPs.
The most recent statement from the brewery says: “It’s been an incredibly difficult and frustrating weekend for us all and we are now assessing the criminal damage that has been caused both inside and outside the building.
“But despite it being a horrendous situation, we have also seen some fantastic work from our staff who have dropped everything to help or got on with their jobs in far from ideal circumstances.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported us, either in person or through messages. We really appreciate it and we are glad to have our site back.
“Our next task with our staff tomorrow is to start a massive clean-up and get our business up and running once again”
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