Clean-up begins after travellers move from layby

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TRAVELLERS have left a layby near the A27 after being threatened with bailiffs.

The encampment packed up yesterday after being 24 hours’ notice by Havant Borough Council to leave the site off the A259 Havant Road, in Emsworth.

After almost a week of camping just yards from a well-used pedestrian and cycle track, the 10 caravans moved peacefully away.

They were escorted by police out of the area.

Council wardens were due to start the clean-up at 7.30am today.

Around £350 from the public purse has already been spent on legal costs to evict the group.

Community leaders breathed a sigh of relief, but applauded the group for causing little nuisance through the week.

Brendan Gibb-Gray, a retired senior police officer and councillor for Emsworth, said: ‘They left a lot of space for people to walk through and there has been no difficulties.

‘On the other side, it does cost council and police resources and money to deal with it.’

Cllr Gibb-Gray said he hoped the encampment was not a sign of things to come.

Last year travellers caused havoc across the Havant and Chichester area.

Among the encampments were a play area in Leigh Park, recreation grounds in Bosham and Southbourne and even the village cricket pitch at West Wittering.

Cllr Gibb-Gray said more travellers’ pitches were needed – but Havant borough would struggle immensely to find any suitable sites.

He said: ‘The answer is we probably have to provide more accommodation.

‘We have looked at various sites and it’s difficult for a very urbanised borough. We don’t have that much available land.’

A spokeswoman for Hampshire County Council, which owns the site near the A27 and will pay the legal costs, said: ‘Our traveller and gypsy liaison officer is working with Havant Borough Council to improve locks on the barrier.

‘In the short term, the borough council will be putting in a concrete block to prevent travellers getting in the area again.’

A spokeswoman for Havant council said: ‘Council officers are unable to comment on the cost of the clean-up operation until they have had a full inspection of the site.’