Travellers set up illegal sports centre camp after entry barrier vandalised
A height barrier was removed after being vandalised
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Travellers set up an illegal camp on a leisure centre car park in Somerset - after the barrier installed to stop encampments was vandalised. A height barrier was installed at Hutton Moor Sports Centre in Weston-super-Mare last year after the site suffered a number of illegal traveller encampments.
The site has been a target for unauthorised encampments over the years. In the past groups have set up on the car park and the sports fields, leaving a trail of mess behind them.
On some occasions the fields - used by sporting clubs - were left strewn with litter and human excrement, rendering them temporarily unusable. The preventative measures, installed by North Somerset Council last summer, included installing two height restriction barriers to prevent vehicles over 2.1 metres - such as caravans and motorhomes - accessing certain areas of the car park.
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The car park is also locked overnight with telescopic bollards. Additional parking hoop barriers were also installed to improve the security of the site.
The barrier however was vandalised at the end of April and has yet to be replaced - allowing the group to access the site. The group of eight caravans arrived last Thursday but have now left the site.
A North Somerset Council spokesman said: "We received reports of an unauthorised encampment at Hutton Moor car park, made up of eight caravans and associated vehicles. We visited the group last Thursday to carry out health and welfare enquiries.
"The group has since left and our waste team have tidied the site. An automatic barrier was installed in the car park last year but unfortunately this was vandalised and broken at the end of April.
"A replacement barrier is due to arrive soon. If anyone has any information about the vandalism to the car park barrier, please let the police know." This is the second illegal traveller encampment in the town in recent weeks.
A smaller group set up camp in the council owned Walliscote Place car park in the town centre earlier this month. So far the Beach Lawns - a favoured stop off for travellers - has been clear of encampments due to the site being now being fenced off by security bollards.
Anyone who has information about the vandalism of the bollards should call police 101 and quote crime reference number 5223099981.