Traveller camp appears in Colchester field

Squirrels Field is north of Highwoods Country Park, in the Mile End ward of Colchester Picture: JOAN

Squirrels Field is north of Highwoods Country Park, in the Mile End ward of Colchester Picture: JOANNA LYNNE - Credit: JOANNA LYNNE

A group of travellers has moved onto a plot of land in Colchester.

The group and their caravans were first spotted on Squirrels Field in Highwoods, Colchester, near the Gymnast Centre, on Sunday, April 14.

Essex police are investigating reports of damage being caused to the site, which is owned by Colchester Borough Council, and confirmed that they were working with Essex County Council with regard to the matter.

A council spokesman said: “We are aware of an unauthorised encampment of 6-7 caravans which set up on land owned by Colchester Borough Council at Squirrels Field, Mill Road, on April 14, 2019, and both the police and the Essex Countywide Traveller Unit (ECTU) have been informed.

“ECTU will visit the site to carry out initial welfare checks. If there are no immediate welfare or health concerns, such as pregnancy or illness requiring medical supervision, the travellers will be asked to leave the site.

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“If the travellers do not leave the site, we will need to go through the courts to ensure their removal. If we have to apply for a court order, the procedure will take between 7-10 days.”

ECTU is a partnership operation between 11 authorities in Essex, the county council, police, firefighters, education and public health representatives.

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The unit supports communities in the county through many schemes, one of which is the effective management of unauthorised encampments - treated as trespass - on all partner land.

This support and information is for both the settled community and travellers.

Councillor Martin Goss, who represents the Mile End ward took to Twitter, saying: “We are aware of the traveller incursion on Squirrels Field - it has been reported to the appropriate authorities.”

Essex Police said: “We were called to reports of an unauthorised encampment in the Mile End area of Colchester at around 8.20pm on Sunday, April 14.

“Officers will be visiting the site to assess the situation today.”

The appearance of caravans in Essex follows the arrival of a group of travellers at the Anglia Retail Park in Ipswich on Friday, April 12.

A dozen caravans have camped at the car park, close to the A14. Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk Constabulary are working together to move the travellers on.

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