Big Fat Gypsy Invasion! Travellers roll onto common and set up camp with authorities powerless to move them on until after bank holiday
- The travellers have descended on Greta Park in Hedge End, a children’s play park near Southampton
- With the council and courts shut today, the travellers cannot be moved on until they return
- Hedge End Town Council has previously had similar issues and said they would be erecting security barriers
A group of travellers have descended on a park near Southampton and the local authorities are unable to take action until after the bank holiday.
Families in the are were furious today as around 30 caravans and motor homes covered the football pitch and left it covered in rubbish.
It is understood they are in the area for a wedding and the council may have to wait until courts reopen after the bank holiday before they can start the process to evict them.
A group of travellers have descended on Greta Park in Hedge End, Eastleigh, and council workers are unable to move them on until after the bank holiday
Local residents have complained about the travellers leaving piles of rubbish and playing loud music early in the morning
Retired Bill Goodwin, 77, walked his dog in the park at 7am on Monday morning and found the travellers ‘drinking and playing loud music’.
He said: ‘It was awful – there was rubbish everywhere. I put some of it in a nearby bin but I could have filled an entire bin liner, it was disgusting.
‘Some of the travellers were sat in deck chairs drinking and being loud and playing music, it made me so angry.
It is understood the travellers are in the area for a wedding and the council will have to wait until after the bank holiday before starting the process to evict them
Locals have previously complained about travellers coming to the park. One said after an incident two years ago: ‘Everyone in Hedge End wants something to be done as soon as possible’
‘My dog Benny started sniffing some of the rubbish so I kept the walk very quick.
‘My wife Christine and I are going to drive somewhere else to walk the dog later. We shouldn’t have to do it, but until they leave we don’t have much choice.’
Ben White, 29, was ‘outraged’ as he visited the park hoping to play football with his six-year-old son, Hayden.
The mechanic said: ‘I’ve walked up here with Hayden to play some football but it looks like we can’t now.
‘I don’t want to cause a scene in front of my son, but I am outraged they can do this and no one challenges them.
‘The council should be out there right now telling them to leave – they have no right to use a local park as a temporary living space.
The travellers have pitched up at Greta Park, a small grassy area in Hedge End near the south coast of England, and are said to be on their way to a wedding
Resident Ben White, 29, was ‘outraged’ as he visited the park hoping to play football with his six-year-old son, Hayden but found the 30 caravans on the pitch
‘There is rubbish everywhere, it’s disgusting.
‘It would be a small consolation if they were at least respectful and put their litter in the bins, but they haven’t even done that.
‘There is no space for us to play football, and to be honest, I don’t really want to kick a ball around with my son here.’
Police arrived at Greta Park this morning to see if any criminality was taking place but powers of eviction come under the remit of the landowner because trespassing is a civil, not criminal offence.
The park, which has a play area, skateboard half-pipe, basketball courts and youth shelter, is managed by Hedge End Town Council.
But with council workers unable to take action until after the bank holiday, the travellers are able to enjoy the park without disturbance until they return.
Mr White said: ”There is no space for us to play football, and to be honest, I don’t really want to kick a ball around with my son here’
Dog-walkers have avoided going to the park today. One resident said: ‘We have kept our walk quick with the dogs this morning, we had to keep them on their leads because we don’t know if they have dumped glass on the ground’
The council has to obtain a court order and UK courts are not open again until after the bank holiday.
MailOnline has also been unable to get through to anyone at Hedge End Town Council today.
Resident Sally Nicholls, 62, and her partner Steve, 63, said they were forced to keep their two golden retrievers on leads in case glass was among the rubbish dumped on the grass.
Mrs Nicholls said: ‘They were here two years ago – we have real problems with travellers here.
‘Someone left the gate open next to the library and they were able to drive straight on to the park.
‘On Sunday morning we walked the dogs and there were no issues, but today we turned up to find all of these caravans.
‘Last time they were here the council had a lot of trouble with bins because lots of them had been filled with human waste.
‘This morning we have already found rubbish dumped all over the park, and some of the women were hanging their washing on bushes to dry.
‘The last group of travellers left an awful mess in the toilets at the betting shop, I don’t understand how they can be so messy.
‘We have kept our walk quick with the dogs this morning, we had to keep them on their leads because we don’t know if they have dumped glass on the ground.
Hampshire Police attended the site this morning but left after there were no signs of criminality taking place. Trespassing is a civil, not criminal offence
The park, which has a play area, skateboard half-pipe, basketball courts and youth shelter, is managed by Hedge End Town Council
While trespassing is a civil offence, failing to move when ordered to is a criminal offence which can result in arrests or vehicles being impounded
‘We just want them gone, it makes me furious.’
Dog walker Steve Mason, 58, added: ‘When travellers have been here before they have tried to use Wildern Leisure Centre, which is about five minutes from here.
‘I know the leisure centre is shut today because it is a bank holiday, so they will have to find somewhere else to go.
‘They shouldn’t be allowed to take over local parks and call them “home” until they are told to move on.
‘Usually I walk through the park on the weekend and see children playing football on the pitch, but today there are none, and I don’t blame them.
‘They are intimidating and rude, dumping rubbish across the park.
‘I saw one of them drive their van back onto the field and he was playing his music so loudly, it is just so selfish.’
Mother of one Sonia Wilkinson said the vehicles posed a danger to young children using the park.
The 32-year-old, who was with her four-year-old daughter Rosie, said: ‘We come to this park every week and I’ll sometimes bring a frisbee to play with Rosie.
‘But we aren’t doing that today, there is not any space because of all of the caravans.
‘Vans keep driving on and off the field so I have said to Rosie she cannot leave the play area today, it’s not safe.
‘I just wish there was a way to force them to leave.’
Richard Shackell, who is visiting family in the area, revealed he had spoken to some of the travellers who told him they had settled in the park as they are attending a wedding nearby.
Mr Shackell, from Windsor, who was using the play area of the park with his two daughters, said: ‘We are here visiting my parents and I brought the girls over to the park but found all of these caravans.
‘Some of the travellers’ children were in the park as well and I got talking to one of their mums – they are in the area for a wedding, she didn’t say when.’
MailOnline has contacted Hedge End Town Council for comment