Travellers declare 'we like Southsea' after returning to green space only a month after facing court action to remove them
TRAVELLERS who fled a green space in Southsea only last month just before they were about to be booted off have returned to the scene amid a dramatic stand-off, before declaring: ‘We like it here, we’ll be staying for two weeks.’
The group were denied access at the entrance to the D-Day Story car park on Clarence Esplanade as two vehicles towing caravans attempted to enter the site before being blocked by car park attendants just before 3pm on Wednesday.
Police officers were called to the stand-off before ushering the travellers on.
But the determined wanderers then went back along Clarence Esplanade before pitching up on land behind Clarence Pier, next to Pembroke Road.
The area was swamped by a flock of campervans only last month - prompting Portsmouth City Council to hastily begin court proceedings to evict them. However, by the day of their court showdown they had fled the scene.
Meanwhile the council put down large boulders along the borders in an attempt to prevent another unauthorised encampment as part of the authority’s action to deter travellers from green spaces across the city.
But despite the action, land off Pembroke Road was again full of caravans following the latest arrival. A council spokesman said: ‘They gained access to Pembroke Gardens by removing rocks that were placed there to fortify the land.’
Five campervans were spotted at the site on Wednesday evening which had risen to nine by Thursday afternoon.
And to add insult to injury, The News has learnt that travellers on the land are the same ones who only arrived in April and were ready to be given their marching orders in court. ‘We were here last month,’ one of the travellers said.
Another said: ‘We like it here, Southsea is a nice place. We will be staying for two weeks.’
Meanwhile the council spokesman added: ‘The council is currently following its usual procedures for an unauthorised encampment accessing its land. The police will review the powers they have in this matter and are aware of how (the travellers) obtained access onto the land.’
A police spokeswoman added: ‘We are aware of an unauthorised encampment on the green next to Pembroke Road and have been liaising with the local authority.’
People passing by the land on Thursday would have seen the area basked in sunshine as traveller children played freely while women were spotted cleaning the inside and outside of their vehicles and hanging up washing across the perimeter.
Janet Pope, of Havant, who was visiting friends, said: ‘It is a bit of an eyesore.’
She added. ‘If there was a place for them to put rubbish it would save the council money.
‘But they could just take their rubbish with them and then people would not feel so badly towards them.’
Mary Murphy, 82, was visiting Southsea from Nottingham with her husband. ‘I have mixed feelings,’ she said. ‘They can be an eyesore but personally I have no objection if they clean up their rubbish as it costs councils a lot to do that.
‘It’s unfair they can go anywhere and not pay rates or clear up after themselves.’