TRAVELLERS have set up camp at a Rochford park after allegedly cutting open the gates.

At least four caravans were spotted arriving by concerned residents at Cherry Orchard Park on Monday evening.

It is understood that this is the first time that travellers have pitched up in the park and it is believed they came in through the gates along Cherry Orchard Way.

Following calls from residents, Essex County Council will serve a notice on the travellers asking them to move on.

The council has urged residents not to approach the caravans to take photos.

Credit: Chris Hurlock

Jo Mcpherson, independent Rochford parish councillor representing St Andrews, said: “Residents alerted Rayleigh Town Council on Monday evening about travellers’ caravans entering the park.

“It’s a very beautiful, wildlife park used by many residents who enjoy going there. It’s not the right place for travellers.

“But in all fairness to them, they need somewhere to go. There’s a plan in Rayleigh to organise spaces for travellers to set up camp. They are still part of the community, so they deserve to have a place provided for them.”

Mike Webb, Rochford Council’s conservative councillor responsible for community, said: “The incident was reported to me on Monday night. It is believed the travellers cut through the gates to enter the park.”

Mr Webb said residents should not be concerned.

He said: “There is a perception that whenever travellers move into a site the crime rate will go up. But this is not true. I will speak to Rochford Council to discuss if there are steps we can take to prevent another incident.

“But it’s not as straightforward as many will think. Whenever you have travellers coming into a public space there’s always the indication to set up stronger barriers.

“But when we plan to install barriers in public places we need to consider the balance between public access and prevention of travellers entering the site.”

A spokesman from Rochford Council said: “Approximately four traveller caravans arrived on Monday evening at Cherry Orchard Jubilee country Park, Rochford.

“Rochford District Council are working closely with the police and the Essex Countywide Traveller Unit in monitoring the situation. The Council are encouraging residents not to take photographs.”

An Essex County Council spokesman said: “We are aware that a group of travellers have arrived in Cherry Orchard Park.

“An officer will visit the site tomorrow and serve a ‘Direction to Leave’ notice.

“We expect them to move on in the coming days.”