A GROUP of unwelcome travellers have pitched up on playing fields at a Newton Abbot park – for the second time in just three months.
An entourage of five caravans – and just as many vehicles – created an illegal encampment near the tennis courts at Bakers Park yesterday evening (July 22).
Officers at Teignbridge Council, which owns the beauty spot, quickly got the ball rolling to have the unwanted bunch evicted.
Leader of Teignbridge Council Gordon Hook confirmed: ‘We have been notified that Bakers Park has yet again been made the subject of an illegal encampment and are taking urgent action to evict those involved as quickly as possible using the powers currently available to us.’
Cllr Hook said: ‘We are really concerned about this situation and are determined to do everything in our power to evict people as quickly as possible from these illegal sites on our parks and green spaces or where possible to prevent them from pitching there in the first place.’
Another group of travellers with some five caravans set up home near the children’s play area at the park in April this year.
Cllr Hook explained: ‘The council is investigating other powers we could use to prevent illegal entry to our land through pre-emptive injunctions and are working with Devon County Council to look at alternative pitches, which would give us a legal right to move travellers on immediately from our land.
‘We will also continue to review our parks and open spaces to look at further ways we can increase the security of these sites.’
Part of the district authority’s £700,000 regeneration scheme earmarked for Bakers Park includes height barriers to stop large vehicles getting onto the park.
Cllr Andrew MacGregor, who is in charge of the district’s parks, explained: ‘We will move these travellers on as quickly as possible and try to ensure the park is secured against further illegal occupation.
‘We will also ensure any damage or mess is rectified as quickly as possible. Our plans for improvements at the park include barriers at height as well as across access points.’
He added: ‘The incursion does highlight the need though for the council to work with the County Council and other stakeholders to create locations that travellers can use and prevent this type of behaviour.’