'Nuisance' travellers set to be given the boot from Southsea with court showdown - but fears raised visit could be 'first of many' this year
‘NUISANCE’ travellers are set to be given the boot this week after being slapped with a court showdown – but fears have been raised the illegal encampment could be the ‘first of many’ this summer.
A convoy of campervans and vehicles turned up en masse on Tuesday evening on the fields behind Clarence Pier next to Pembroke Road and Pier Road to mark the first in Southsea this year.
Travellers usually target Southsea Common but with large stones put in place to block their entrance after last summer’s visits, they have set up camp at an adjacent spot.
But the travellers – who have been accused of driving recklessly on the grass and pavement – are set to see their maiden voyage to the area this year cut short after swift action by Portsmouth City Council.
‘Court papers were served to them on Friday which means they will have a court appearance early next week,’ leader of the council, councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said.
‘Sometimes (the travellers) go before court if they want to stay but sometimes they leave if they don’t want to go before the court.
‘We have the power to remove them. Removal of them is a foregone conclusion as the land is owned by the council and it is an illegal encampment. There is no discretionary “yes or no” verdict.’
Police confirmed they are aware of the encampment.
‘Officers have been in the area as part of patrols,’ a spokesman said.
‘We’re aware of the unauthorised encampment and have been liaising with the local authority who are leading on this.’
Meanwhile residents were less than impressed with the area suddenly being taken over amid the warmest period of the year so far.
Another caravan also arrived on Sunday to add to the dozen-plus already congregating at the site.
One local said: ‘They are driving around cars on the field and on pavements right into the night. We can see their headlights.
‘It’s an eyesore to look out on the field and see them there. They are a nuisance and an inconvenience.
‘They worry me the way they drive their cars around when there are lots of children running about the fields. It’s pretty irresponsible.
‘A lot of people who use the park are unable to right now because they are there.’
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They added: ‘I worry this could be the first of many this year.’